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We’re months past the winter holidays and sellers have a great chance to think about what we’ve learned, now that the dust has settled. Each holiday shopping season is an intense, focused study in what motivates customers to buy and brings many opportunities for improvement. Looking back, it would be too easy to think that […]

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Streaking Ducks offer Coyotes true test of improvement

The Anaheim Ducks dealt Arizona two of the Coyotes’ most impactful losses during a dreadful first half of the season. That’s a trend the showing-some-improvement Coyotes want to halt Saturday night.

The only problem is, after meeting a succession of teams on losing streaks while they won four in a row and five of seven, the Coyotes now face a team that’s surging as the NHL playoff stretch drive nears.

The Coyotes were trying to stick with what they had going, but coach Rick Tocchet said they came out “sluggish” following a four-day layoff and it showed as they went 0-for-5 on the power play against Calgary.

“You’ve got to flush this one down and get ready for the weekend,” said Coyotes center Derek Stepan, who has two goals and six assists in his last eight games. “That’s the good thing about three (games) in four (days), you get to play right away.”

This will be the fourth game of a seven-game home stand for the Coyotes, who play the Vancouver Canucks at Gila River Arena on Sunday night. Arizona is 2-1 so far. Miller (8-4) is expected to match up with Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta, who had won four in a row until the Flames opened up a 5-1 lead in winning easily Thursday night.

Lillard can make some franchise history on two fronts in Phoenix on Saturday. He made two three-pointers against the Jazz and has made at least one three in 41 straight games, tied with Cliff Robinson for the longest streak in franchise. Lillard set the record, 42, last season.

He has made his last 54 free throws, the longest of his career and three short of Damon Stoudamire’s franchise record set in 2004-05.

Lillard is sixth in the league with a 26.0 scoring average and McCollum is 23rd at 21.9. They are the highest-scoring guard tandem in the league, and the only backcourt teammates averaging at least 21 points a game.

“They’re playing high-level and they just beat Utah, which was playing the best basketball of the season,” Suns guard Devin Booker said.

DeRozan cut it to one with a dunk but Terry answered with a pair of free throws in the final second. DeRozan’s long inbounds pass to C.J. Miles was knocked away at the buzzer to give the Bucks the win.jaguars_120-223x223

2018 Super Bowl: What time is kickoff?

Super Bowl 52 will feature a rematch 13 years in the making, when the Philadelphia Eagles try to enact revenge against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBC (live stream at NBC Sports).

On the other sideline, you’ve got Tom Brady, who is obviously no stranger to playing in a Super Bowl. The Patriots might have experience on their side, but they’ve had to overcome some significant injuries as well and are hoping to return tight end Rob Gronkowski — who is still in concussion protocol — to the lineup before kickoff. Even without him, the Pats boast a rushing duo that is hard to stop and a mastermind head coach who is sure to throw in more than few surprises come game time.

There are a couple of different ways to catch a live stream of the big game, including on NBCSports.com. You can also watch Super Bowl 52 from the NFL App and Yahoo! Sports App. The game will also be streamed for your listening pleasure across the airwaves, including NFL GamePass, SiriusXM (Ch. 88), ESPN Deportes Radio, and NBC Universo.

Brandin Cooks may offer a bit more value for Patriots backers, at +110 to score a touchdown at some point in the game. Cooks put up comparable numbers to Gronkowski during the regular season with 65 catches, 1,082 yards receiving, and seven touchdowns and feels due for a big game after a slow start to the regular season.

Other Patriots options include Dion Lewis (+120), Rex Burkhead (+175), James White (+175), Danny Amendola (+175), and Chris Hogan (+225).

Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz (+140 to score a touchdown in Super Bowl LII) and Nelson Agholor (+225) each had eight receiving touchdowns during the regular season, while Alshon Jeffery (+175) led the team with nine. Jeffery also snagged two touchdowns catches in Philadelphia’s 38-7 win over Minnesota in the NFC Championship. Jay Ajayi (+150) and LeGarrette Blount (+200) will also try to reach the end zone out of the backfield.bears_016-223x223

Adding to the haze is Chase Field is already one of the more inconsistent venues.

Trout, who grew up in New Jersey as an Eagles fan, said that when he realized he could get tickets to the Super Bowl, he figured, They have a good chance of winning, so he told his wife, We should probably be a part of it.

I was fortunate enough to get a few extra tickets and make it happen, he said.

Recalling this is based on a 25-50 percent range in home run loss and 5 percent fewer hits, seeing what happens with best- and worst-case scenarios provides a range of likely outcomes. Applying the maximum home run effect along with increasing strikeouts while shaving off some walks results in a factor of 95, a moderate pitchers’ park. Using the minimum influence with a smaller decrease in hits while leaving strikeouts and walks the same results in an index of 105. Admittedly, this is a large range, adding another layer of risk-reward to drafting Diamondbacks pitchers.

Beginning with last season’s index, the factors for the past five seasons are 120, 122, 106, 116 and 97. The standard deviation for Chase Field’s run index is one of the largest in MLB.

It’s obviously cool, Trout said of such prospects. But I go out there and play. I don’t think about any of that stuff. We brought in a bunch of new guys and we’re trying to compete for a championship.

I’m out here just to play baseball. The other things will take care of themselves later.

Newly signed Chris Young has the inside track to be the Angels’ fourth outfielder. Young, 34, appeared in 90 games last season for Boston, hitting .235 with seven homers and 25 RBIs. Chris obviously has a veteran’s presence, but he’s still athletic like he was in his younger days, Scioscia said. He matches up really well against left-handed pitching. He can play all three outfield positions. Young, an All-Star with Arizona in 2010, has a career average of .237 with 185 home runs. This is an opportunity to be on a winning ballclub. That’s what I was looking for, he said. … Joe Torre, MLB’s chief baseball officer, met with Scioscia on Monday to discuss pace-of-play issues.bears_002

He was raised in that environment, coming up with Tony La Russa teams.

He’s right in the thick of that competition, manager Andy Green said of Renfroe, adding, we didn’t have to have a (roster) move to cause that to happen.

Green mentioned Alex Dickerson, Franchy Cordero, Travis Jankowski, Matt Szczur and Joel Pirela as others in the outfield competition, noting that Pirela also could spend time in the infield.

Renfroe slashed .231/.284/.457 with 26 homers last season but was optioned to Triple-A El Paso in mid-August to work on his ability to get on base. He drew 17 walks in his first 54 games but had only four walks in 130 plate appearances between June 29 and his demotion.

Renfroe, who made all of his 117 outfield starts in right, again showed power when he returned. He had six homers, including a three-homer game against Arizona on Sept. 20, but walked only once in 44 plate appearances.

Granted, Thompson was talking in a basketball context — and he might not have had to sacrifice on the court — but he may have to take less than expected to keep the Warriors together. That’ll be tough to do with other teams offering piping-hot max contracts when the clock strikes midnight on the eve of free agency.

Then again, Thompson also said he’d do anything to stay with the Warriors. Anything is probably, most certainly (possibly?) a nod at taking a slight pay cut. Who knows.

Maybe this is why players don’t talk about free agency. At the end of the day, we still have to wait it out.

Just like every young player, there is stuff to learn and continue to grow, he said.

New hitting coach Matt Stairs, assistant hitting coach Johnny Washington and new first base coach Skip Schumaker should help in the development, Green said.

They are going to serve him very well, Green said. Skip Schumaker, the one thing I will tell you about him, he will be all over everybody to do it the way that is right.

The night’s final skater was China’s Jin Boyang, who used music from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. He perfectly landed his quad lutz/triple toeloop combo to start, then breezed through the rest of the routine with no problems whatsoever. He got a 103.32 score to establish himself as one of the top contenders Friday night.royals_002

The second-year player was one of two people killed in a car accident, according to the Indianapolis Star.

Indiana State Police tell the Star they suspect Jackson was hit by a drunk driver.

“Jackson and 54-year-old Jeffrey Monroe of Avon were standing near a stopped vehicle when a black Ford F-150 pickup truck drove onto the emergency shoulder and struck them both,” police said.

Jackson was signed to the Colts’ practice squad late in 2015 and played with the team in 2016, recording 66 tackles and playing in all 16 games. He was placed on injured reserve in 2017.

If the league is guilty of anything, it’s allowing Patriots paranoia to permeate each year. Last week, there was the accidental NFL Facebook post that showed the Patriots and Vikings in the Super Bowl. Concepts such as “rigged” and “WWE” have been attached to the Patriots; the NFL villain that just won’t die. Goodell hasn’t done anything to stop the controversy, and the more the NFL becomes like pro wrestling, the less popular it will be with its football-first fans.

I watched Sunday’s game looking for flags and came up with two conclusions. One, it’s no way to watch a football game. Two, other than a third-and-9 pass to Marcedes Lewis, on which the Pats might have gotten away with a defensive holding on a 50-50 call, there’s not enough to block out what really happened.

Butler was a fixture in the secondary of a Patriots defense that improved as the season progressed but still was vulnerable through the air. He didn’t play a defensive snap in New England’s 42-33 loss to the Eagles.

Pederson, the former longtime backup quarterback to Brett Favre in Green Bay, was the perfect mentor for Foles. The QB topped his 352-yard, three-TD performance against the Vikings with 373 yards and three touchdowns against the Pats, along with a TD catch on a daring fourth-and-2 call at the end of the first half. Pederson also showed his gutsy nature with the fourth-and-1 conversion on a Foles-to-Ertz pass from the Eagles’ 45 in the fourth quarter after the Patriots had pulled ahead 33-32.

Those fourth-down gambles are emblematic of Pederson’s fearlessness and creativity as a coach, qualities that make players want to play for him. Plus he’s a true players’ coach who is likable.bills_035

Chiefs rookie Kareem Hunt rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.

Doesn’t it seem like just five minutes ago that the analysts had considered the running back position all but dead in the NFL? Well, based on Week 1, not so fast. Big-play running backs who can control the games do not appear to be as extinct as previously thought.

Vikings rookie Dalvin Cook ran for 127 yards on 22 carries. Jaguars rookie Leonard Fournette rushed for 100 yards on 26 carries.

The Bears’ less-hyped Tarik Cohen got in on the action as well, with a combined 113 yards rushing and receiving, 66 coming on the ground.

18. Ezekiel Elliott, running back, Cowboys (NR): From his midriff-baring outfit at the draft to his ill-advised marijuana window-shopping in Seattle to his bulldozing of famed (and feared) NFL hitman Kam Chancellor, Elliott’s first few months in the league definitely have been eventful. There no doubt will be more where that came from, thankfully.

Why not sit them down, talk to them on camera. What do they remember about Wilson? That day? That night? The next day? The pregame locker room buzz? What was the fallout? How was the game plan, near zero-hour, altered? What was the measure of betrayal? Anger? Astonishment?

23. Mark Davis, owner, Raiders (NR): The son of Al Davis has a bowl haircut straight out of “The Three Stooges” — and that’s just the start of his odd quirks. Davis also is trying to move the Raiders to Las Vegas while landing the biggest taxpayer stadium handout ever ($750 million). Win or lose, Davis will step out of the shadows this year.

Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. Even though offensive guru Jon Gruden is in town, the Raiders should be targeting best defender available with this pick. The Raiders can save $14.5 million by cutting Sean Smith and David Amerson in the offseason, and if they can get T.J. Carrie re-signed after his standout year, having him, 2017 first-rounder Gareon Conley and the speedy Ward at the cornerback position instantly makes the Raiders younger, cheaper and flat-out better at an area of need.

Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson. Consider this more of a value play than filling an immediate need. Ferrell is coming off a great performance against Alabama that caps a season that included 18 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. With Cam Wake on the tail end of his career, Ferrell gives the Dolphins someone to pair with Charles Harris and provide pass rushing off the edge for the foreseeable future.

Given that the Winnipeg Jets don’t much come ’round here, MSG-Plus’ Jets-Islanders pregame Saturday focused on what the Jets try to do and whom they try to do it with. Smart with simple often makes good TV.

Reader Ken Meltsner suggests the Mets returning Omar Minaya at Christmas is a case of flagrant “re-gifting.”
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Researchers at Boston University have been at the forefront of CTE research in recent years.

Still, for as many hurdles as Gruden will have to overcome to fully deliver on the Raiders’ hopes, this could still be the right move for Davis.

The Raiders are banking on two things from a coach with a career .540 winning percentage. One is that Gruden will maximize Derek Carr’s talent. Carr clearly regressed this season — his statistics in every category that matters were down from a sterling 2016 campaign — a decline hastened in part by injury and by Del Rio’s misguided decision to not bring back Bill Musgrave as the offensive coordinator. Carr was so good in 2016 that the Raiders entered this season as highly publicized Super Bowl contenders. Then they went 6-10. Getting Carr back to that level is right in Gruden’s wheelhouse and could make for a quick turnaround.

The study results released Thursday from Boston Unversity’s CTE Center also showed Hernandez suffered from early brain atrophy and had large perforations in his septum pellucidum, a major membrane in the brain associated with cognitive development.

According to a statement from the CTE Center, a second neuropathologist from VA Boston Healthcare System confirmed the diagnosis.

“Everyone, including and especially his family, is deeply troubled by this whole thing,” Baez told reporters at an afternoon news conference.

In a study published in July, researchers studied the brains of men who played football at all levels and found evidence of CTE in 177 of 202 — 87 percent — of them.

“It’s always been broader than that,” Bennett said. “It’s always been about justice and discrimination in America, police brutality, women’s rights, all these different issues — clean water; Flint, Michigan — issues that are pertaining to America that we all need to pay attention to because it’s not that it happens to one of us that [makes it] important. It’s important every single day regardless of what we’ve got going on.”

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Raiders: Lynch owners have had to tangle with the enigma that he is all season: He’s produced double-digit scoring in just three games and has four games in which he finished with fewer than three points.

Since then, however, Martin’s numbers have been abysmal. He hasn’t reached double digits since Week 6 and seems to be regressing to the point that some pundits are recommending he isn’t worthy of a roster spot. If you are in the hunt for a playoff spot and find yourself relying on Martin, then don’t act surprised when he fails to deliver. The writing has been on the wall for weeks.cowboys_102

Lue was asked about how Isaiah Thomas called for players to be benched if they were not being effective.

Cleveland’s offense is a mess — it ranks second to last per Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, which measures a team’s efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent — but its defense has been solid. Overall, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has his unit ranked 16th in DVOA, with the league’s top run defense. His defensive line is stopping 29 percent of opposing rushers at or behind the line of scrimmage; only the Philadelphia Eagles have been better (33 percent).

“That didn’t come up at all,” Jed York, the chief executive officer of the 49ers, said at the October owners’ meeting. “There was nobody that disagreed with — obviously people have different opinions on what kneeling means.

New York also fired its offensive coordinator, John Morton, to get out of its Air Coryell scheme that didn’t quite mesh with Todd Bowles’ defense-first mentality. Todd Haley, recently fired from the Steelers, is the strongest candidate to replace him and install Erhardt-Perkins.

The Jets, like the Bills, might be tipping their hand by tailoring their offense to the ’18 draft class, which is full of big, strong-armed quarterbacks. The Jets just went through the retread route again with Josh McCown replacing Ryan Fitzpatrick and had limited results. They need to finally dive into a first-round QB and use their $74 million-plus cap space to upgrade at several other positions.

“We’ve just got to continue to play with pace, with pop, and play together,” McIntosh said, “and I think we can be a really good team.”

Nate Mason had 25 points and nine assists for the Gophers (14-9, 3-7), who lost for the sixth time in their last seven games. Amir Coffey scored 15 points on 7-for-13 shooting, but he had five fouls and five turnovers in another collapse down the stretch by the team’s half-court offense and collective belief.

Korver, a 15-year veteran, is not overreacting to the Cavs’ current circumstances. When he was traded to Cleveland last January, for instance, the Cavs went 3-6 in his first nine games with the franchise.

“This is kind of just my experience with this team, to be honest,” Korver said. “The year that I’ve been here, we’ve been really good and we’ve been really bad. It seems to come in waves, so hopefully there’s a good wave coming soon.”
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A trace of eye-roll could be detected in Pederson’s words, which would not place him in the minority among NFL coaches.

Wesley Matthews, Dallas Mavericks (33.8 percent): An inefficient scoring pattern — Matthews has hit just 39.4 percent of his shots over the past three seasons — limits this gifted defender from being a consistent fantasy commodity. That all said, Matthews is hot from the field of late and merits immediate consideration; he’s tallied 2.8 3PG and 16.3 PPG in 36.1 MPG over the past eight games.

Wayne Ellington, Miami Heat (13.1 percent): A mid-career reinvention is always a fun story. In Ellington’s case, he’s become a sharpshooter of the highest degree, as he’s second behind only Williams in added value in 3-point shooting among shooting guards during the past 15 days.

They are obsessed with preparation and detail, and the post-touchdown displays provide proof their players are spending at least a few minutes planning how to celebrate a score.

Papa John’s president and chief operating officer Steve Ritchie added at the time that his company has been the most recognized NFL sponsor for the past two years, suggesting that its success is more linked to that of the league than is the case for other pizza chains. He said that he expected the earnings decline for Papa John’s “to persist” until “a solution is put in place” by the NFL for its player protests.

“The statements made on our earnings call were describing the factors that impact our business and we sincerely apologize to anyone that thought they were divisive,” Papa John’s said Tuesday. “That definitely was not our intention.

“I thought we could have got a better shot then,” Green said in reference to that offensive sequence. “… It is what it is.”

When I was a kid, I had a Lynn Swann jersey. Like I said, I rooted for the Steelers. And honestly, now I enjoy watching them play. Mike Tomlin’s from my home town. And aside from the games that are always on Sundays — the Redskins and the Ravens — there are a lot of Steelers games on. So I figure, well, let’s watch some Steelers games and see how that goes. I’ve always kind of felt myself wanting them to win anyway, except when they play the Redskins. I’ve been an NFL fan for long enough that I still find the games interesting. I’m still an NFL fan. I’ll still watch [the playoffs], and I’m sure I’ll root for the Steelers, and we’ll see what happens.cowboys_032

The top teams in the AFC should be thrilled with how Sunday’s action played out.

The Ravens and Chargers, two teams with the weaponry to surprise in a one-game season if everything broke right, were both knocked out of the tournament before it started. The Titans and Bills are in, giving two starving fanbases a taste of the playoffs that seems destined to be short-lived. Both nine-win teams have not shown anything in their season-long makeup to believe they could win three straight playoff games on the road to make the Super Bowl.

At the end of the day you’ve just got to look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘What can I do better?’ You can’t point the finger, you can’t get mad at a guy for not doing what you thought he should’ve done. You can’t, just can’t point fingers. You’ve got to look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Wow can I help the team?’ It’s really simple but it really is true. … I think this is just what grownups do. We’re all — this is a veteran team — we’re all grownups. When you’re a mature grown up you just look yourself in the mirror.

With Favors healthy this season, there was some thought that Gobert (average draft position of 13.8 overall ) and Favors (ADP 112.5) could thrive together as a dominant, twin-towers unit — much weaker offensively but certainly stronger defensively (and possibly on the glass) than Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins in New Orleans.

Working the waiver wire is key to fleshing out a winning roster. Here are all of the top free agents you should consider picking up for the week ahead.

However, this hasn’t happened to date. Instead, Gobert has been surprisingly ineffective all season, even when healthy, with a 6.98 score on the Player Rater by average this season, 14th among centers for a player drafted on average 14th overall. Favors has had his best season in years during the times when Gobert has missed time due to injury (14.9 PPG, 58.2 FG%, 8.6 RPG, 1.3 BPG during 23 games during Gobert’s two big injury absences).

The Trail Blazers’ identity has fluctuated to the defensive end with a superior 104.2 defensive rating that’s good for seventh in the league.cowboys_008