Projecting L’Jarius Sneed’s contract for 2024 and beyond is one of the biggest questions facing the Kansas City Chiefs on the heels of their Super Bowl victory.
The cornerback was a big part of Kansas City’s success in 2023. Now that Sneed’s free agency has arrived, the Chiefs have to decide if he’s going to be a part of their future and at what cost.
L’Jarius Sneed Free Agent Preview
To be fair, Sneed isn’t exactly one of the greatest defensive players in league history. But he’s certainly established himself as a top-flight cornerback. On the open market, he’s likely to get a lucrative deal from a team looking to boost their secondary.
The question is what team will end up with Sneed and how much will he make in free agency. Let’s take a closer look at L’Jarius Sneed’s contract situation, including what teams are likely to pursue him and how much he’ll make as a free agent.
Needless to say, the Chiefs are going to make a strong effort to keep Sneed. Using the franchise tag to keep him for 2024 is one option.
However, the Chiefs also have Chris Jones to consider. They might need to use the franchise tag on Jones if they don’t want to risk losing him in free agency. That increases the possibility that Sneed will end up on the open market this offseason, available for any team to negotiate with him.
As one of the teams with cap space to burn, the Commanders are an obvious candidate for Sneed. Washington is also a team with a lot of needs, including at cornerback with Kendall Fuller hitting free agency.
While the secondary may not be a top priority, the Commanders have the money to make a serious push for Sneed.
Elsewhere in the NFC East, the Eagles are another possible suitor for Sneed. Cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry are both starting to age.
With Sneed being in the prime of his career, Philadelphia could look at him as an upgrade, making Slay or Bradberry expendable.
Atlanta’s top priority this offseason is to find a quarterback. But there is also room for improvement on defense despite most of the team’s starting lineup set to return.
Depth is an issue at cornerback for the Falcons, which could lead them to consider Sneed. Plus, by pairing Sneed with A.J. Terrell, Atlanta would have one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL, which would help to reshape the entire defense.
Similarly, the Packers could have the same mindset about pairing Sneed with Jaire Alexander. Keep in mind that the Green Bay offense is loaded with young talent.
That will allow the Packers to use their cap space to improve their defense. Outside of Alexander, the Green Bay secondary has a lot of holes to fill this offseason, making Sneed an ideal target.
The secondary doesn’t look like a strength for the Rams right now, especially given some of the players who are becoming free agents this offseason. On the other hand, Aaron Donald and Kobie Turner will help to ensure the Los Angeles defensive line is among the best in the NFL next season.
Therefore, the Rams can afford to be aggressive in addressing their secondary. Naturally, they will look to target one of the best cornerbacks available, making Sneed a great fit in Los Angeles.
L’Jarius Sneed Contract Projection
Based on some of the comments that Sneed has made this offseason, he expects to get paid. He’s not likely to take a hometown discount to stay with the Chiefs. After all, he already has two Super Bowl rings.
He doesn’t need to chase a championship; he can chase money instead. Most projections have Sneed making between $15 million and $18 million per season. In the end, he figures to at least get a three-year deal worth $52 million with $30 million guaranteed. However, a four-year deal worth upwards of $70 million could be on the table if there is a bidding war for his services.
Through the first quarter and a half, it was the Wizards using their advantages against the Celtics. Without a true center, they were smaller but also faster on the floor. That turned into 36 transition points on the night; Boston only gives up 14 a game on average.
However, midway through the third quarter with the game tied 76-76, Sam Hauser and Al Horford replaced Jaylen Brown and Jrue Holiday. The substitution gave Boston that vaunted double big pairing with Horford and Kristaps Porzingis (and the 6’8 Jayson Tatum at the 3) and a height advantage across the front court. That effectively turned the tables on Washington by slowing down the game on defense and playing with more purpose on the other side of the ball.
“A good shot, I don’t care where it is on the floor. We take what the defense gives us and we’re taking advantage with what we think the other team’s weaknesses are. It doesn’t matter what kind of shot it is,” head coach Joe Mazzulla said after the game. In the end, the Celtics outscored the Wizards 62-42 in the paint by taking it to Washington’s weakest defenders.
“We joke about it a lot, but the point is to infiltrate the defense, take advantage of the weakness, take the best shot possible based on their coverages and our matchups.”
Just before this clips starts, Horford and Derrick White run a simple pick-and-roll. Tyus Jones switches on to Horford in the post, slips, and falls to the parquet. That kicks off a series of defensive scrambling on Washington’s part that ends with Porzingis with a wide open 3. Sure, the action starts with a big (Horford) taking advantage of a small (Jones) on the block, but it’s also the spacing and unselfish ball movement that ultimately generates a great shot on the perimeter.
A few possessions later, it’s a more traditional “me big, you small” mismatch. Horford runs in transition and recognizes the size advantage on Landry Shamet. He very deliberately runs to the block, calls for the ball, doesn’t react to the Shamet flop, and calmly puts in the layup.
Finally, with Porzingis gassed after playing the entire third quarter, he refuses the down screen from Sam Hauser and Hauser instead screens and gets Jordan Poole switched on to Tatum. Tatum does the rest and effortlessly drives past Poole for the dunk.
Tatum would finish the game with a team-high 35 points, but it was Porzingis’ 34 against his former team that really showed how his presence raises the team’s ceiling to potentially the rafters. Porzingis finished 2-for-4 from behind the arc, but importantly, he punished Washington in the paint and subsequently went to the line fourteen times and making all of his free throws.
“To be honest, now playing against them, Kuz was guarding me for a big part of the game, I don’t think he realized how much I was doing for them — all the tricks, all the drawing the fouls, little bit of grabs here and there. ‘You’re a dirty—.’ ‘Brother, you didn’t realize all the little things I was doing for you guys,’” Porzingis said.
He continued, “We always want to find the balance between ‘we want to attack this matchup’ or ‘we just want to play in the flow and see what happens.’ We have so much talent that each night, we could win differently. Even if we’re prepared to do something, something else opens up because they’re doing a counter to whatever we’re trying to do. It’s always reads throughout the game.”
Porzingis is a Celtic now and the opportunity to raise a banner isn’t lost on him. He’ll gladly trade a role as a team’s focal point and a chance to rep a franchise in the All-Star Game for a mid-season tan during the break and an opportunity to get his body ready for the postseason and raise Banner 18.
The Atlanta Falcons are planning to hire Raheem Morris as the team’s next head coach, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Thursday.
Morris was last in Atlanta three years ago when he was the interim head coach after Dan Quinn was fired following the team’s 0-5 start. Morris went 4-7 as the interim coach, and Atlanta hired Arthur Smith to replace him. The Falcons fired Smith after three 7-10 seasons.
Morris comes from the Los Angeles Rams, where he had three successful seasons as the defensive coordinator and is widely respected around the league. He’s coached on both sides of the ball.
He’s the first head coach owner Arthur Blank has hired with prior NFL head-coaching experience; he was head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009 to 2011. A young head coach at the time — he was 32 when he was hired by Tampa.
This concludes a search where Atlanta interviewed 14 candidates for the position and had multiple second interviews, including with former New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
Taking a closer look, Falcons reporter Michael Rothstein answers two big questions about Morris’ hiring, including what will happen at quarterback. National reporter Dan Graziano dishes on what he’s hearing about the hire and why it wasn’t Belichick, and draft analyst Matt Miller spins it forward to the draft. Finally, front office analyst Mike Tannenbaum grades the hire.
What has changed since Morris was Atlanta’s interim coach in 2020?
Rothstein: A lot. The roster is almost completely turned over from when he left following the 2020 season. Only cornerback AJ Terrell, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, left tackle Jake Matthews, right guard Chris Lindstrom, right tackle Kaleb McGary and kicker Younghoe Koo remain from the roster he left behind and are under contract for 2024.
He’ll also be working with a different general manager, Terry Fontenot, who was brought in in January 2021.
The only thing that will look the same to him might be Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the practice fields.
Swagu: Raheem Morris’ success as a coach tied to the QB position
Marcus Spears says Raheem Morris is the right hire for the Falcons, but adds that he will ultimately be judged on his choice at starting quarterback.
What will the Falcons do at quarterback?
Rothstein: This is an open question and might be dictated by who Morris decides to hire as offensive coordinator.
Both Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke — Atlanta’s quarterbacks last season — remain under contract in 2024, but Blank called their play “deficient” during his Jan. 8 press conference after firing Smith. So it’s easy to surmise the Falcons will look to replace part — or all — of their quarterback room from a season ago.
Ridder was a third-round pick in 2022 and is on a rookie contract. Heinicke is a potential cap cut, a move that would save Atlanta $7 million.
Morris was on the Rams staff last season when Baker Mayfield came in as a late-season replacement, and he is scheduled to be a free agent, so there would be some familiarity there if Tampa Bay was unable to come to terms with Mayfield. But that’s all speculative at this point, and Mayfield and the Bucs have expressed a desire to work something out.
It’s highly possible Atlanta brings in a free agent veteran for at least the first year, and if a rookie quarterback makes sense, the Falcons can either trade up or draft one at No. 8 and have them compete. Or there might be longer-term answers like Kirk Cousins or Russell Wilson.
Once Morris gets settled and assembles his staff, the first big piece of what he and Fontenot have to figure out is what to do at quarterback and how that quarterback fits into an offense with good skill position players: Running backs Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier, receiver Drake London and tight ends Kyle Pitts and Jonnu Smith are all under contract for 2024.
Why didn’t the Falcons hire Bill Belichick
Graziano: Multiple sources have said for weeks that Blank went into this process wanting Belichick, and I think the league and the industry expected that to work out. But there were hurdles that couldn’t be cleared. The organizational structure in Atlanta involves Blank and CEO Rich McKay, and a lot of the discussions with Belichick centered on the idea of what McKay’s role would be if Belichick came to coach the team — and how much power and control the various parties would have in the end.
Belichick — who is 15 wins shy of breaking Don Shula’s all-time record for most by a head coach — was seen as a short-term play, so there were some in the Falcons’ building who were concerned about overhauling things extensively only to potentially have to do so again in a few years. Blank may have gone into the process wanting Belichick, but he also went in with an open mind and was willing to listen to the input of others in his organization. All of that, combined with already high opinions of Morris, led to this surprise result. And it could leave Belichick without a job in 2024.
What else are you hearing around the league on the hire?
Graziano: Morris has as good and complete a resume as any candidate in this cycle, plus a strong relationship with Blank. So after interviewing 14 candidates, including Belichick twice, the Falcons made a hire that makes all kinds of sense for them.
Morris was on Atlanta’s coaching staff from 2015-20. A longtime defensive coach, he moved to the offensive side of the ball to coach Falcons wide receivers from 2016-19. He then became defensive coordinator in 2020 and served out the final 11 games of that season as interim head coach following Quinn’s firing. For some reason, Blank decided at that point to hire Arthur Smith instead of Morris. Well, three years later, the Falcons corrected their error.
Morris is extremely well-liked and well-respected around the league, and Sean McVay and the Rams were pushing for him to get a head coach job this offseason. Morris had his second interview with Blank earlier this week, and sources said it went great, which is no big surprise. The two men are very close. But between his previous (albeit long-ago) head coaching experience, his work as an assistant on both sides of the ball and the time he spent under McVay (whose assistants always seem to become head coaches), Morris returns to Atlanta with all of the requisite experience to handle this job.
If Morris opts to do defense at No. 8, who is the perfect fit for his first pick as the Falcons’ coach?
Miller: The 2024 draft class isn’t rich with top-end defensive talent, but if Morris has his sights on a defender at No. 8, Alabama’s standout pass-rusher Dallas Turner fits the bill. He’s my top-ranked defender in the class, and he reminds me of the Jaguars’ Josh Allen because of his awesome length and speed. Turner had 10 sacks in his final season for the Crimson Tide, and he not only has immediate starter ability but also the highest upside of all defenders in this class. That’s what the Falcons need, considering they posted a pass rush win rate of 30.9% in 2023, last in the NFL.
How would you grade this hire?
Tannenbaum: B. Morris did an outstanding job rebuilding a very young and inexperienced Rams defense, but he has gone 21-38 as a head coach (three seasons with the Buccaneers from 2009-11, and an interim stint in Atlanta in 2020). His first decision as the Falcons’ coach — who will play quarterback — will be absolutely critical for Morris.
Spice Diana, Uganda’s famous R&B and Afrobeat artist, joins the 22Bet family as a Brand Ambassador on January 15.
Spice Diana launched her music career in 2014 with the song ‘Onsanula’ hitting the local charts. Since then, she has released numerous hits like ‘Do Me’, ‘Omulembe’, ‘Anti Kale’, and ‘I Miss You.’ Her music style can be described as a nice blend of R&B and Afrobeat.
During her career, Spice Diana has won several music trophies, such as Best Female Artist at the HiPipo Music Awards (2015), Best Video at the NTV Awards (2016), Female Artist of the Year at the Zzina Awards (2018, 2019), and Best Collaboration at the HiPip Music Awards (2019).
She has collaborated with Ugandan and international artists, including Ray G, Pallaso, and Jamaican Orisha Sound. One of her recent performances was in London in December 2023 at the Afro Amapiano Fest.
Spice Diana enjoys an iconic status on her home soil in Uganda. She is also well known as a successful R&B singer in neighboring countries, such as Kenya and Ethiopia. On Instagram only, she has around 1.8M followers.
At the 22Bet inaugural ceremony, she said: ‘I am proud to announce to you that I have been signed on as a Brand Ambassador for 22Bet Uganda.’ From now on, Diana, along with Khaligraph Jones, will not only delight you with their songs but also participate in important community events. Caring about local community development, we at 22Bet look forward to various charity and music projects with our Brand Ambassadors in 2024 and beyond!
There aren’t many days when Rohit Sharma’s white-ball brilliance is eclipsed. It nearly happened at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Wednesday when Afghanistan stunningly matched India’s mammoth 212-run total, dragged the contest into not one but two Super Overs before falling agonisingly short.
Afghanistan made 16 for one in the first Super Over, only for India to match it, helped by two sixes from Rohit. In the second tie-breaker, India scored 11 for two but Afghanistan were shot out for one run, with Ravi Bishnoi claiming both wickets to help sweep the series 3-0.
In a match that ebbed and flowed like an ocean wave on a full moon day, Rohit (121 n.o., 69b, 11×4, 8×6) and Rinku (69 n.o., 39b, 2×4, 6×6) rescued their side from a precarious 22 for four with a majestic 190-run partnership.
But Afghanistan showed its collective spirit as openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz (50, 32b, 3×4, 4×6) and Ibrahim Zadran (50, 41b, 4×4, 1×6) put on 93 from 11 overs, before two scarily good cameos from Gulbadin Naib (55 n.o., 23b, 4×4, 6×4) and Mohammad Nabi (34, 16b, 2×4, 3×6) almost flattened the host.
With 36 needed off the last two overs, India seemed ahead in the contest, only for Naib to hit 23 runs off Avesh Khan and Mukesh Kumar to even the tie and give the fans more than their money’s worth. Virat Kohli, who was out for a first-ball duck, showed his worth by reducing a potential six into two runs with a stellar leap at long-on in the 17th over.
Earlier, after deciding to bat, India was off to a disastrous start. Between a cut to the boundary from Rohit off the 13th ball of the innings to another from the captain off the 31st, the crowd was stunned into silence.
On a sluggish pitch, Kohli, Sanju Samson and Yashasvi Jaiswal all fell trying to execute cross-batted shots, as Fareed Ahmed bowled a fine first spell (3-0-10-3). Shivam Dube was caught acrobatically by wicket-keeper Gurbaz.
Little did Afghanistan know that that would be the last of its happy moments. At one point, Rohit was 13 off 22 deliveries, but he took off in the middle-overs, recalibrating his game splendidly to the pace of the wicket.
There were eight maximums, including a breathtaking reverse-swept six off tweaker Sharafuddin Ashraf. Rohit’s 64-ball century — a record-breaking fifth in T20Is — came in the 19th over when he hit Azmatullah Omarzai for a six over mid-wicket, a four past short-fine and for another boundary over point.
While all eyes were fixated on Rohit, Rinku proved to be the ghost in the ring, the kind of moving target Afghanistan found incredibly difficult to pin down. The result was a splendid T20 innings, that saw the southpaw even strike at a rate marginally higher than his skipper (176.92 to Rohit’s 175.36).
Rinku smashed half-a-dozen sixes, including three over the mid-wicket region off the last three balls of the innings, as Afghanistan bled 103 from the last five overs. The weight of the runs would have crushed most teams, but not the spirited Afghans.
A new directive to crack down on football managers overstepping their boundaries has been installed for the 2023/24 season. Football managers will now be under closer scrutiny and are more likely to be punished with a yellow card for approaching officials or demanding that opposing players get a booking.
The Premier League is a high-pressure world for managers to operate in as job security is low. That has led to some big managerial meltdowns. TV cameras are watching everything, millions of punters attracted by generous football bonuses UK betting companies offer are lapping up outbursts, so these are moments when the red mist descends and the whole world gets to see.
Here we showcase the top five most infamous managerial meltdowns from the Premier League.
Conte vs Tuchel
There was a squaring up between then-Chelsea manager Tomas Tuchel and former Blues boss Antonio Conte in 2022. After a 2-2 draw in the EPL, the two managers crossed paths for a handshake, but Tuchel didn’t let go of Conte’s hand and sparked the flashpoint. It was all over the fact Tuchel had felt disrespected because Conte had not looked at him. Players and staff piled in and both bosses admitted improper conduct.
Benitez Rants at Ferguson
Former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez launched into a memorable press conference in 2009, citing plenty of ‘facts’. Benitez’s Liverpool had been duelling with Manchester United in the Premier League title race, which the Reds ultimately lost. But Benitez had been niggled by complaints from Ferguson about the fixture list.
The Spaniard retaliated and kept referring to how refereeing decisions would always go Manchester United’s way and pointed fingers at Ferguson’s behaviour towards referees. It was a juicy five-minute rant.
Klopp Loses it
The Liverpool manager has had his fair share of rants. But the biggest was during his side’s 1-0 FA Cup victory over Manchester City in 2022. The Reds boss lost his cool,
chased a referee’s assistant up the sideline and then back again while screaming in the face of the unfortunate official. It echoes when in charge of Borussia Dortmund, Klopp screamed in the face of an official for which he received a red card.
Keegan “Loves it”
Former Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan was interviewed in the closing stages of the 1996 season with the title still on the line. Keegan’s Magpies were fighting with Manchester United
for the honours. United boss Ferguson had been doing his mind-game things in the build-up. So following a league win that kept the Magpies in touch for the title, Keegan lost his cool and in a passionate outburst told the TV crew “I will love it” if he beat Sir Alex Ferguson to the title.
Conte Rages Against Players
During his time as Tottenham manager, Antonio Conte launched into one of the most bizarre press conferences ever. The Italian laid his feelings bare as he attacked his Spurs players for being selfish after losing a 3-1 lead in a draw against Southampton.
Conte also attacked the club for not being in a position to play for anything important and not wanting to play under pressure, and calling out his employers for not having won anything in the 20 years under owner Daniel Levy.
Sir Alex Ferguson
This is more of an honourable mention of the king of Premier League football managers, Sir Alex Ferguson. The legendary Manchester United boss wouldn’t shy away from letting people know what he felt.
There’s no single event that gets him on this list as he had so many, like making goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak cry after suffering a 4-0 loss against West Ham in the League Cup.
There was the flying boot that cut David Beckham’s eye; the calling of referee Alan Wiley ‘unfit’ to referee a Premier League game; a five-match ban he received for a comment made
about referee Martin Atkinson and the hairdryer treatment he gave to Louis Saha after a Championship fixture to name but a few.
The early window to enter the transfer portal is officially closed. Barring a five-day extension for playoff teams, players will have to wait until the spring to enter their names in the portal. With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the biggest portal winners from the SEC.
RELATED: Big Ten programs that won the early transfer window | ACC programs that won the early transfer window | Portal standouts zeroing in on decisions
MORE TRANSFER PORTAL: Latest news | Transfer search | Transfer tracker/player ranking (football) | Transfer team ranking (football) | Transfer tracker/player ranking (basketball) | Transfer team ranking (basketball) | Rivals Portal Twitter
The recent loss of star running back Quinshon Judkins stings, but Ole Miss is still the biggest winner of this year’s early transfer cycle. The Rebels came away with an embarrassment of riches, landing seven players in the top 100 of the Rivals Transfer Tracker.
Ole Miss’ haul is highlighted by Walter Nolen, the top player in this year’s cycle. Along with landing the former Texas A&M defensive lineman, the Rebels also bolstered their defensive line by bringing in two other elite pass rushers in Florida’s Princely Umanmielen (No. 11 overall) and Tennessee’s Tyler Baron (No. 69 overall). Behind them will be former Arkansas linebacker Chris Paul Jr. (No. 48 overall) and former Oklahoma defensive back Key Lawrence (No. 37 overall).
Ole Miss also added to its offensive arsenal by bringing in the No. 3 wide receiver in the portal in South Carolina’s Antwane Wells Jr., ranked No. 21 overall.
The Rebels know they have a window for success, and they capitalized on it. They should be legit playoff contenders next year.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH OLE MISS FANS AT REBELGROVE.COM
Missouri put itself in a position to build off its Cotton Bowl-winning season by making several key additions through the portal. None of those were bigger than offensive lineman Cayden Green, who the Tigers stole from new conference rival Oklahoma.
Green, a Missouri native, started five games at guard during his freshman season with the Sooners. He should also play a big part in the Tigers’ front as they look to protect returning quarterback Brady Cook.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers poached cornerback Toriano Pride from Clemson and linebacker Corey Flagg Jr. from Miami.
Look for Missouri to continue to make noise in the SEC moving forward.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH MISSOURI FANS AT POWERMIZZOU.COM
Georgia suffered some notable portal departures, but it was also able to pull in some talent as well.
The Bulldogs’ most notable addition is Florida running back Trevor Etienne, who will end up as the No. 2 back in the portal once Judkins officially enters. After sitting in the 700-yard range on the ground the past two years, Etienne should have the ability to take his game to another level in Athens.
Georgia also gave returning quarterback Carson Beck a tall target in 6-foot-5 receiver Colbie Young, who reeled in 47 receptions for 563 yards and five touchdowns last season. He’ll be joined by Vanderbilt transfer London Humphreys, who caught 22 passes for 439 yards and four scores.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH GEORGIA FANS AT UGASPORTS.COM
Alabama saw a mass exodus through the transfer portal this week following its Rose Bowl loss to Michigan. However, none of the Crimson Tide’s departures should sting too much.
Conversely, Alabama was able to answer two major needs by bringing in Southern California cornerback Domani Jackson (No. 13 overall) and Texas A&M edge rusher LT Overton (No. 24 overall). Both five-star defenders should compete for starting spots in next year’s defense.
The Crimson Tide also added Texas A&M offensive tackle Naquil Betrand. While the 6-foot-6, 340-pounder didn’t see the field for the Aggies during his debut season, he should provide depth to Alabama’s offensive front moving forward.
Alabama might not be done either.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH ALABAMA FANS AT TIDEILLUSTRATED.COM
Rafael Nadal has fired a rocketing forearm at long-time foe Novak Djokovic.
In the latest chapter of the tennis legends’ simmering feud, Nadal has responded to comments made by Djokovic in December, when the Serbian champion recalled a time that he shared a Roland-Garros locker room with his Spanish rival. Djokovic told CBS’ 60 Minutes that the intensity of Nadal’s warm-up and blaring music were “pissing me off”.
Nadal told Spanish publication El Pais this week that it was “never, never, never my intention” to intimidate Djokovic, before knocking Djokovic down amid the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) debate.
LIVE UPDATES:Follow the United Cup and Brisbane International action
READ MORE:Why ‘courageous’ Warner will be tough to replace
READ MORE:Warner has ‘no regrets’ over ball-tampering scandal
“Since I have a memory of tennis, [Roger Federer] is the player who has impressed me the most, the one who has entertained me the most, the one who has moved me the most,” said Nadal, whose prickly relationship with Djokovic is contrasted by his deeply special bond with Federer.
“Watching Federer play has moved me more than Djokovic, and in the end, tennis is about emotion. It’s the emotion that draws you to it.”
Djokovic has won a record 24 singles grand slam titles, placing himself ahead of Nadal (22) and Federer (20) in the GOAT debate purely in terms of numbers.
Federer won his final grand slam title at the 2018 Australian Open and announced his retirement four years later, calling time in September 2022.
Nadal continues to fight on — he’s Down Under for another Australian Open — but whether the 37-year-old’s battered body will allow for another grand slam title is tough to predict.
Watch the United Cup from December 29 to January 7 live and exclusive on Nine,9Nowand onStan Sport.
Djokovic, in contrast, is still exceptionally fit at the age of 36 and highly likely to add more grand slam triumphs to his resume. He’s the hot favourite to win a record-extending 11th Australian Open title in Melbourne this month.
But as Nadal noted in his interview with El Pais, “there are several factors” to weigh up in the GOAT argument — not just statistics.
“Some I won’t tell you because it’s difficult for me, it’s not my place to comment on them, but in terms of tennis, it’s clear,” Nadal said.
“It’s a combination of very radical styles. Federer was perfection in terms of aesthetics, elegance and technique.
“I have very good technique, but technique is not the same as aesthetics. They are two different things. He had incredible technique, doing things beautifully with impressive elegance.
“We have all reinvented ourselves [and] that’s why there has been this intense rivalry. We always surprised each other. Djokovic, as well, but with a difference compared to the two of us.
“He hasn’t needed to evolve [his style] as much as we have. He hasn’t suffered as many injuries. The only thing that has demanded him to improve his game has been his rivals, not physical issues. That’s a difference.”
From the moment Ron Rivera named Sam Howell his starting quarterback in the summer, the coach had never flinched. He has praised Howell’s potential, even as he struggled. He lauded his growth, even as the losses mounted. He made it clear he believed the Washington Commanders had found their franchise quarterback.
Then, last Sunday, he flinched.
It wasn’t just that Rivera pulled Howell with 9:05 to go in the Commanders’ 28-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, or that the offense clicked as backup Jacoby Brissett nearly rallied Washington for the win. It’s that the benching was weeks in the making, as Howell’s struggles have mounted.
And it was that Rivera said that if the Commanders still had any shot at the playoffs, he might not be willing to put Howell back in.
“Well, if this was about playoffs and we’re right in the middle of it, that’s something you have to most certainly consider,” Rivera said. “Do we still have that opportunity to continue to win? That’s one of the things you always consider because you have to make sure everybody’s getting the opportunity to be successful.”
That’s something the eventual new regime of the Washington Commanders will have to consider, too. And it’s no longer as easy a decision as it once might have seemed.
It’s not just that Howell has struggled mightily over the last four games — a 59.4 completion percentage, 196 passing yards per game, two touchdowns and six interceptions, including three that were returned for touchdowns. It’s that with him leading the way the Commanders (4-10) have lost five straight, seven of eight have gone 2-10 since their surprising 2-0 start.
As a result, they would currently pick fourth in the 2024 NFL Draft. They have a real shot to pick as high as second. That means whoever takes over for Rivera and general manager Martin Mayhew after the season will be holding a top pick in a quarterback-rich draft and could maybe even have a shot at USC’s Caleb Williams or North Carolina’s Drake Maye, or perhaps LSU’s Jayden Daniels.
With Week 16 right around the corner, Dave Helman reveals his updated NFL power rankings
The new GM and coach will also have no allegiance to Howell, a fifth-round pick in the 2022 draft, nor will they care that Rivera once believed his legacy in Washington would be the franchise quarterback he left behind.
Of course, just because Rivera benched his 23-year-old quarterback doesn’t mean anyone in Washington has — or should — give up on Howell yet. Overall, he’s still had a surprisingly productive season. He ranks seventh in passing yards with 3,568, even though he’s thrown for just 229 total in the last two weeks. He’s completed 64.6 percent of his passes and thrown 19 touchdowns despite being sacked a ridiculous 59 times.
More often than not, he’s been a bright spot on a bad Commanders team.
“There have been some positives and it continues to be positive,” Rivera said. “But the thing you always want to make sure is (that) we’re still seeing the growth. That’s something we have to sit down and discuss and see exactly where we all feel he is.”
Lately, it’s hard to argue there’s been much growth. The six interceptions Howell has thrown in the last four games has ballooned his season total to 15 — the most in the NFL. And it was hard not to notice how well Brissett performed after Howell was pulled on Sunday, going 8 of 10 for 124 yards and two touchdowns on his only two drives.
Yes, the Rams’ defense was sitting back a bit protecting what was a 28-7 lead with nine minutes to go. But there were little things that Brissett did that Howell hadn’t been doing. And there are bigger things, like rediscovering Terry McLaurin, the Commanders’ best receiver. He had a career-high 141 receiving yards on Sunday, including 93 on passes from Brissett. The lack of a connection between Howell and McLaurin has been disappointing all season. One game earlier, McLaurin didn’t even catch a single pass.
That has all helped the doubts creep in where there hadn’t been many before. In early November, Rivera was all but handing the keys to the franchise to Howell. He said, “This franchise has been looking for quite some time and for the first time in a while, I think that that guy might be here.” Now he’s questioning his growth, saying he needs a “reset,” wondering out loud if he’s the guy who gives his team the best chance to win.
“That’s stuff that I have to take into consideration — exactly where he is and how he’s handling these things,” Rivera said. “He’s done a really good job for us and it is a long year. It’s been a tough year. But again, this is stuff that we can hope that he understands, and he learns and he grows.”
There are certainly signs that he has, and he can. As recently as last week, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy was still raving about Howell’s progress, his intelligence, his pocket presence and more.
“Do I like what he’s done? Yes, I do,” Bieniemy said. “Obviously, in this league, you’re measured by wins and losses, so we have to make sure that is reflecting in that column. But I’m very happy with his development and his growth process. Do we have a long way to go? Yes, we do, but he’s growing every single day.”
Howell’s teammates seem to sense that and still believe in him, too.
“Sam’s still doing a good job of growing and learning and giving us chance to make plays down the field,” McLaurin said. “We’re still rolling with him. We’ve just got to continue to support him and make his job a little easier.”
“He’s going to be a good player in this league for a long time,” Brissett added. “The key is just you can’t be discouraged, can’t lose confidence, and I’m sure he won’t. I’m sure he can come back and be better than this.”
Howell didn’t sound discouraged after he was benched on Sunday. He even insisted: “I know I’m not defined by this one game.” And he won’t be. Rivera has already said Howell will be the starter again when the Commanders play at the New York Jets (5-9) on Christmas Eve. It’s a good bet he’ll be the starter in the final two games, too.
After that, though, all the bets on Howell are now off, because there are just too many variables about his future. No one knows yet who’ll be in charge, let alone what they think of Howell — or even what new owner Josh Harris thinks of Howell and his potential. It’s unclear just how high the Commanders will be picking in the draft, and what the new boss’ evaluation of the quarterback class will be.
There was a time, though, when Howell seemed to be steaming towards making it an easy decision for whoever ended up in charge. Through the first eight games he had completed 66.9 percent of his passes, he had thrown for 2,146 yards and 13 touchdowns, his passer rating was 90.1, and everyone seemed to believe the best was yet to come.
But the only thing that came next were struggles and doubts, leaving many to wonder if Rivera even still believes the Commanders have their franchise quarterback. Not that it matters, since that won’t be his decision.
The legacy he hoped to leave behind is now very much up in the air.
Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports, covering the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the previous six years covering the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and before that, 16 years covering the Giants and the NFL for the New York Daily News. Follow him Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.
2023 NFL odds: Best Week 16 picks, predictions, including Cowboys-Dolphins
2023 NFL Power Rankings, Week 16: Bills surge into top 3; Eagles in trouble
Atalanta takes on AC Milan in an exciting Serie A match. Milan looks to win their third straight game and has a good chance of doing so against Atalanta, who’s 6-6-2. At 9-2-3, Milan has been one of the better teams in Serie A this season.
This is the first time the two match up in the league this year, but previous games indicate we should have competitive play. Atalanta, however, has struggled in their first 14 matches and in their last five games. They’re 6-6-2 this season and 1-3-1 in their last five. This is the biggest indication of a Milan win.
Milan suffered injuries in their recent win, which could again be the case against Atalanta. Rafael Leão and Olivier Giroud were both out against Frosinone in Milan’s 3-1 win. Although Leão is still doubtful for the game against Atalanta, Giroud is set to return and aims to build on his tally of 11 points, currently placing him second in the Serie A rankings.
Atalanta Needs A Win
At some point, Atalanta has to win a game. The 6-6-2 record isn’t much to write home about, but the start of the season proved that they’re one of the better teams in Serie A. Atalanta may not be counted among the elite teams, but they can defeat any opponent.
They’ve done everything at an average rate thus far. Atalanta has allowed 16 goals, which is about the middle of the pack, and has scored 21 goals, which is slightly above average.
Gianluca Scamacca and Ederson have been pivotal for their club, with both players ranking in the top 20 for points this season. But Scamacca is out injured till next month, while Ederson hasn’t scored in the last three domestic games.
Atalanta and AC Milan have met 34 times. Milan currently leads the all-time series with 16 wins. Atalanta has 10 wins, and there have been eight draws. Atalanta has not secured a victory in their last five encounters with Milan. The two teams met in February of 2023 with Milan winning 2-0.
The standout player in this matchup is undoubtedly Olivier Giroud. Giroud is one of the best players in the league and will impact every game he plays. Given his absence in their last game, how he plays is something to look out for. Milan will find themselves in a good position to win if he does what he typically does.
AC Milan has been a force on offense, posting 24 goals. Their ability to score and defend has been impressive and shows the complete team they are. They’re the more talented team in this matchup, so unless Olivier Giroud is out, expect them to win.
Atalanta vs. Milan Expert Predictions and Analysis
With this being a home game for Milan and them being the better team, they’re most likely the best pick for the match. Expect them to come out and win in a closely contested game. Atalanta has struggled recently, which will play a huge factor.
Atalanta is 2.52 to win the game, while AC Milan is 2.84. A draw, which is my second favorite football bet for the game, is 3.28 odds.
Due to the oddsmakers giving us 2.84 odds for Milan to win, we can’t pass it up. These odds give us an opportunity to make money at plus value. This will be a good, close game, but ultimately, Milan sneaks away with a close win.
Disclaimer: The content provided on this page, including all football predictions, odds, and related information, is for entertainment and informational purposes only. While we strive to ensure accuracy and timeliness, we do not guarantee the correctness or reliability of any predictions, data, or information presented here.