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Super Bowl LIV Preview: Kansas City Cheifs v San Francisco 49ers

It’s the final game in the NFL’s much-celebrated 100th season. Which team will be the victorious Super Bowl LIV champions?

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PHOTO | stevecuk
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Today is a big day for fans of the National Football League. In the final game of their much-celebrated 100th season, during one of the most-watched televised events every year, a new champion will be crowned for Super Bowl LIV.

After a long, grueling season the Kansas City Cheifs, led by their dynamic, star-studded offense and young superstar Quater Back Patrick Mahomes, are set to take on the San Francisco 49ers and their stifling defense in Miami.

A battle between one of the top two offenses in the league against the top two defenses, Super Bowl LIV is much more likely to feature some more big plays than last year’s defensive battle between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams.

So who has the advantage tonight between these two historic teams? Well, we’re here to take a closer look at the stats and give you a comprehensive guide to each team, giving you the knowledge you’ll need to go to any Super Bowl party prepared and ready.

Let’s get right into it, shall we?

The Case for the Cheifs

When it comes to offensive fireworks, big plays and dynamic action, there are few rosters more stacked than the Kansas City Cheifs.

Despite suffering a horrific dislocated kneecap midseason that kept him out of two games this year, Kansas City’s young superstar QB and former league MVP Patrick Mahomes still lit it up through the air, throwing for a staggering 4,301 years, 26 touchdowns and only five picks. For some perspective that’s tenth best in the whole league, despite everyone ahead of his playing at least one more regular-season game.

A huge chunk of that offensive production was to superstar tight end Travis Kelce, who hauled in an incredible 97 receptions for 1,229 years this season, landing him fourth among all receives this season. Along with pass-catching weapons like wide receivers Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman and pass-catching running back Damien Williams, the Cheif’s offensive is a big play waiting to happen.

Even if the Cheifs are stuffed early in the game by the 49ers stout defense and ruthless pass rush, don’t count them out. The Cheifs have rallied from behind to win four games they’ve trailed by at least 10 this season, including twice in the playoffs.

Winning this Super Bowl would be a historic moment for both coach and quarterback for Kansas City, making Andy Reid, the winnest head coach in NFL history without a championship, the first coach in history to win his first ring after more than 20 years as a head coach. It would also make the 24-year-old Patrick Mahomes the youngest ever player to win both an MVP award and a Super Bowl, four years ahead of Hall of Famer Brett Farve who did it at age 27.

Winning the historic Cheifs franchise their first Super Bowl since 1970 would surely be a huge step towards enshrining both head coach Andy Reid and Mahomes onto the shortlist of all-time league greats.

We’ll have to see if they’ve got a few more explosive plays in them to make history.

The Case for the 49ers

A true underdog before the start of this year’s season, few aside from the guys in their locker room, coaching staff and fanbase imagined the San Fransisco 49ers would be as good as they’ve been.

Led by a powerhouse defensive filled with uber-talented players like veteran cornerback Richard Sherman, Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa and versatile linebacker Kwon Alexander and a nearly unstoppable three-headed rushing attack from Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert, this year was the Niners coming out party.

Their final and perhaps toughest test will be today against Kansas City’s explosive offense. If San Fransisco can establish their running game, the second-best in the league this regular season and playoffs, and get pressure on Mahomes to prevent him from flinging the ball deep, something they allowed only eight times all regular season (the fewest over the past 14 seasons), then they have a great shot at being champs.

They’ll also need defensive end Dee Ford to bring his best today to take home the W. The stats show that the Niners defense gets a lot more imposing when Ford is on the field. With Ford playing San Francisco’s sack rate jumps to 15.8 percent, compared to a mere 5.7 percent without him. With Ford hampered by a hamstring injury for the latter half of the season, the Niners had to lean on other defensive playmakers to get the job done. If he’s fully healthy now after two weeks off, the Cheifs offensive line will likely have their hands full keeping Mahomes upright.

According to the stats, pressuring the quarterback is going to be the key to this game. In fact, historically, a great defense has been the key to Super Bowl success.

For example, teams in the last 15 years to make it to the Super Bowl after sacking the quarterback at least 55 times are undefeated – 6 and 0. Top two NFL defenses that made it to the Super Bowl are an overwhelming 17-7 all-time, with the top two defense overcoming the top two offenses 3 to 1 when they matched up in the big game.

If the Niners are looking to win their first Super Bowl since 1995, they’ll need to bring their A-game on the defensive side of the ball.

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NFL Players Will No Longer Be Suspended for Cannabis Use

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Suspended for Cannabis
PHOTO | bondarchik

In the midst of a global pandemic, canceled seasons for the NBA, NHL, international soccer leagues, the PGA and a handful of other sporting events, races and leagues, the NFL Player’s Association and the owners were hard at work negotiating a brand new collective bargaining agreement.

After weeks of negotiations, a deal was struck, the votes were cast and the final details of the deal were set in stone. The owners got one more regular-season game and the players got something arguable even more important; reduced penalties for failed cannabis tests.

That’s right, the famously stuffy and conservative National Football League has loosened their stringent rules when it comes to players enjoying cannabis. Following in the footsteps of Major League Baseball, NFL players can no longer be suspended for cannabis in positive tests. Gone are the days when a player testing positive could mean lost game checks, multi-game suspensions and even season-long bans for multiple-time offenders.

On top of that, the threshold for failing a test has now been bumped up to 150 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood, way up from the previous standard of 35 nanograms.

If a player still manages to fail a test despite the newly heightened standards, their test will be reviewed by a board of medical professionals who will then determine if a player needs further treatment for potential drug abuse.

The testing window for players is also set to be shortened from four months to two weeks, meaning fewer players than before will get tested than in previous years.

On top of the new testing standards and smaller window, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement also states that “a neutral decision-maker” will be the one to officially make the disciplinary decisions that decreases commissioner Roger Goodell’s disciplinary power.

Working this perk into the new CBA, along with a slightly larger portion of overall revenue for a league worth nearly $3 billion, is a huge deal for pro athletes in a sport whose careers average only about three years.

NFL Players and Cannabis: A Long Forbidden Love Story

While this new CBA certainly opens the door for a new age of cannabis-loving NFL athletes, the love affair between the NFL’s players and cannabis is a long, storied and sensible one.

Former NFL running back Ricky Williams has long been a supporter and proponent of cannabis, even going as far as starting his own cannabis business in 2018. Former NFL tight end Martellus Bennett went on record in 2018 to say he thinks “about 89 percent” of the league’s players use cannabis. And, of course, who can forget Laremy Tunsil and his astounding draft day slide due to being hacked and tweeting a video of him hitting a gas-mask style bong?

Simply put, the new reduced risks around being suspended for cannabis use is a long-time coming for one of the most violent and physically taxing pro sports leagues in the world. We’ve already seen high-profile early retirements over the last few years like Andrew Luck and Rob Gronkowski, the latter of the two immediately signing on to advocate for CBD use for pain and recovery.

This new CBA is a massive step in the right direction for the future of players, allowing some of the richest athletes in the country access to a substance that nine of the 32 teams can legally use recreationally.

Keeping NFL players on the field AND removing their risk of being suspended for cannabis? Now that’s a brand new type of Super Bowl.

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Everything You Need To Know Ahead of Wilder vs Fury 2

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Wilder vs Fury 2
PHOTO | Victor Decolongon

It’s a clash of the giants, both literal and figurative, tonight in the fight capital of the world. In what’s poised to be one of the most anticipated heavyweight prizefights since Mike Tyson’s prime in the early nineties, WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder is set to square off with linear champion Tyson Fury for the second time.

In a rematch from their instant classic first fight in December 2018, Wilder will look to nail Fury to the canvas with his unmatched KO power, something he failed to do in their first meeting, while Fury will look to use his superior size and boxing skills to hand the champion his first career loss.

Wilder’s power and Fury’s technical dominance are the keys to this PPV match-up in Las Vegas tonight, the same as their first meeting. Despite Fury outboxing Wilder for long stretches of the first bout, Wilder did what he’s done in every other fight of his career to every other opponent, seemingly landing a massive one-two shot to KO Fury in the 12th round. Fury refused to stay down, however, rising from the canvas like The Undertaker and surviving to take the fight to the judge’s scorecards.

Both thought they had done enough to win on the night and, if the press conferences and weigh-ins leading up to their rematch are to judge, there’s clearly bad blood between the two.

Wilder took numerous shots at Fury about his struggles with addiction and mental health, two key reasons why Fury didn’t fight for three years after beating former champion Wladimir Klitschko to win the WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO and linear titles, while Fury assured fans all over the world he’d beat Wilder with a second-round KO.

On top of the personal score that needs to be settled between the two and their clear distaste for one another, the fight is hugely consequential for the heavyweight division as a whole.

Both fighters are highly ranked, Wilder as number one and Fury as number three, with current IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO champ Anthony Joshua sitting between the two. The winner of tonight’s bout most likely will fight Joshua next to look to unify all the titles, despite a contractual rematch clause the loser can trigger to make the trilogy.

To put it simply for the casual fight fan, there’s a WHOLE lot of money, pride and future big money fights on the line in Las Vegas tonight.

Wilder vs Fury 2: Who’s going to win?

That’s the hundred million dollar question, isn’t it? At the time of writing, only hours before the fight itself, the odds are about even.

Wilder has a clear KO and power advantage on his side but that wasn’t enough to keep Fury down in the first fight. Fury has a clear advantage in boxing skill and technique but hasn’t showcased the raw punching power to put down an opponent as dangerous as Wilder.

No matter who wins, I can assure everyone tuning in of one thing for sure. When it comes to heavyweight boxing, there’s no shortage of excitement.

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Everything You Need to Know About the XFL 2020 Season

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XFL 2020 Season Preview
PHOTO | XFL

Just when you thought professional football was wrapped up for the season, here comes the revived XFL 2020 season. This time around WWE head honcho Vince McMahon brought in prestigious names like Oliver Luck, father of recently retired Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, as commissioner, ex-Bills general manager Doug Whaley as vice president and former NFL officiating head Dean Blandino to add an air of legitimacy to the 2020 version. With eight brand new team stacked with many new — and some more familiar — faces, this weekend as the new upstart league kicks for the first time since 2001.

With eight brand new teams stacked with many new — and some more familiar — faces, this weekend as the new upstart league kicks for the first time since 2001. Let’s take a quick look at each team and their key players ahead of this weekend’s XFL 2020 opening kickoff.

DC Defenders

On paper, the DC Defenders have the potential to be one of the most explosive offenses in the entire league.

With Cardale Jones, a National Championship winner in 2015 with Ohio State, under center, Donnell Pumphrey, the NCAA’s all-time leader in rushing yards and yards from scrimmage, in the backfield and pass-catcher Rashad Ross, a standout now-defunct AFF, it’s entirely possible that the Defenders have some of the league’s best offensive weapons.

With former Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton as head coach, the Defenders might be primed to be one of the most fun to watch XFL 2020 offenses.

Seattle Dragons

If you were a big fan of the AAF, then the Seattle Dragons will likely be the team for you. They’re perhaps the most AAF-heavy team in the XFL at current, stocked with standouts from the league like quarterback Brandon Silvers, along with running backs Kenneth Farrow, Ja’Quan Gardner and Trey Williams.

With former NFL coordinator and Seattle Seahawks Ring of Honor member Jim Zorn at the helm as head coach and a pair of NFL-experienced receiver in Keenan Reynolds and Kasen Williams to catch passes from Silvers, we expect the Dragons to be able to keep their heads above water this season and build for the future.

Los Angeles Wildcats

Just like the two other pro football teams based in the City of Angels, the Wildcats appear to have the offensive potential to make some noise in the Western Conference this year.

Rolling with well-seasoned journeyman Josh Johnson at quarterback, last seen starting a few games for the Washington Redskins this past NFL season, the Wildcats are the 15th professional franchise Johnson has gotten into uniform for. When it comes to years of playing experience, no other XFL team has that much experience leading their offense on the field.

Johnson will have weapons like Pac-12 receptions record holder Nelson Spruce and ex-North Carolina running back Elijah Hood to throw too, while head coach Winston Moss, a longtime linebackers coach for the New Orleans Saints and current Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy’s assistant head coach for over a decade, will look to lead the Los Angeles Wildcats to the same heights the Ram’s reached two years ago.

Houston Roughnecks

There are few more fitting cities in the country that fit the Roughnecks‘ run ‘n’ shoot offensive philosophy than the city of Houston.

Led by quarterback by Phillip Walker, Temple’s all-time passing leader in nearly every counting stat you can think of, and stacked with big skills position names like former Steelers wide receiver Sammie Coates, Houston has the potential to be explosive.

In fact, if potential bears out, Coates and Phillips could be the XFL’s first dynamic QB-WR combo, something that could win them the favor of fans in the Space City and blast the team into the stratosphere.

Tampa Bay Vipers

When it comes to a premium on coaching, Tampa Bay Vipers are in the argument for the biggest advantage in the league.

The team is led by Marc Trestman, a two-time CFL Coach of the Year, former head coach of the Bears and former offensive coordinator for the Ravens. Trestman looks to utilize offensive talent like starting quarterback Aaron Murray, the current SEC leader in touchdowns and QB/RB Quinton Flowers, a supreme athlete set to be used in a Taysom Hill-like role for the Vipers.

Both passers will have former Seattle Seahawks receiver Tanner McEvoy to throw too, so I’m looking forward to seeing what Trestman can cook up to optimize his offensive talent. At the very least we’re going to see some cool trick players and schemes from the Vipers offense.

New York Guardians

Another team projected to be a championship contender in the Eastern Conference, the New York Guardians look set to take the Big Apple and the XLF by storm.

Featuring both one of the most experienced head coaches and quarterback combos in the league in former Penn State Nittany Lion, Oakland Raider and Philadelphia Eagle quarterback Matt McGloin and former Chargers head coach Kevin Gilbride, it’s no wonder they’re one of the betting favorites to make a splash.

Along with McGloin and Gilbride is a stout defensive unit filled with veteran players like the AAF’s Jamar Summers and former NFL linebacker Ben Heeney, making the Guardians one of the most complete teams in the XLF.

We’ll have to see if they can capture the attention of the typically cynical NYC sports fan and make a splash in one of the league’s largest markets.

St. Louis Battlehawks

The city of St. Louis will finally have a football team to call their own again! The fresh-faced new franchise Battlehawks will try to be a shot in the arm for football fans with other newcomers like first-time head coach Jonathan Hayes, a former tight ends coach for the Bengals, and exciting young quarterback Jordan Ta’amu out of Ole Miss.

Both quarterback and head coach are set to make their pro debuts as figureheads for the Battlehawks franchise, backed by a supporting cast of seasoned NFL and AAF pros like running backs Christine Michael and Matt Jones, veteran tackle Matt McCants and AAF standout De’Mornay Pierson-El.

We’ll have to see if pro football’s return to St. Louis sparks the same passion from the fans as when the now-LA Rams did when they left.

Dallas Renegades

Last but certainly not least, we have the Dallas Renegades, one of the outright favorites to win the XFL’s inaugural championship game.

Longtime college head coach Bob Stoops has assembled a team featuring many of his former players and multiple former NFL talents, forming what many are calling one of the most complete overall rosters in the league.

With Landry Jones, a four-year starter for Stoops at Oklahoma, at quarterback, a pair od NFL-caliber running backs in Cameron Artis-Payne and Lance Dunbar and a little receiving dynamo in Jeff Badet, the Renegades offense has no shortage of speed. They have a stacked defense to go with the speedy offense, however, with former AAF stand-out safety Derron Smith as their leader.

If Jones can return quickly from a nagging knee injury, Dallas might be one of the favorites to win the whole thing this year.

With XFL 2020 set to kick off this weekend and all four games on network television, why not tune in and check it out. After all, something needs to pass the time until the NFL kicks off later this year.

Peep the full XFL 2020 opening week schedule here.

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