The Jacksonville Jaguars opened their season up with a 27-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts and, of course, their surprising win has reflected in the latest power rankings by USA TODAY.
After being ranked dead last entering the season, the Jags found themselves at the No. 26 spot in Tuesday’s power rankings for Week 1. After an incredible day by quarterback Gardner Minshew II, USA TODAY analyst Nate Davis seems to be ready for a dose of Minshew Mania 2.0 just as the people of Duval are.
26. Jaguars (32): Nineteen of 20, including three TD passes – while engineering Week 1 upset? Why would you want anything but Minshew Mania in #DUUUVAL?
Minshew’s performance against the Colts’ defense was absolutely surgical and he ended up making history as a result. When looking at performances of 20 passes or more, Minshew’s 95% completion rate ranked fourth in NFL history.
Minshew wasn’t the only young player to show up big for the Jags as Laviska Shenault Jr., D.J. Chark Jr., and CJ Henderson were some of the few notables to contribute touchdowns and an interception, respectively.
As for the rest of the division, the Tennessee Titans remained in the top-10, coming in at No. 7 (dropped from No. 5). The Indianapolis Colts fell down to the No. 19 spot (from No. 7) while the Houston Texans remained at No. 19.
Listen to the latest from Jags Wire’s own James Johnson and Phil Smith on their podcast “Bleav in the Jags.” Subscribe via Apple Podcasts and check out our archived episodes via Bleav Podcasts.
What Phillies need to happen in 6 other games Friday
Here’s what Phillies need to happen in 6 crucial games Friday originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Phillies begin the final weekend of the season with a little bit better than a 50-50 shot of making the playoffs. Their chances are 50.8%, according to Fangraphs.
This past Sunday morning, before they went on to lose four straight games, the Phillies’ playoff chances were at 87%. Following those four losses, they plummeted to 33.5%.
There’s going to be a ton of scoreboard watching around the league this weekend. The NL teams ranked sixth through ninth are still separated by only one game.
Vince Velasquez and the 28-29 Phillies face Charlie Morton and the 37-20 Rays tonight in the opener of a three-game series in Tampa. The Rays are 17-9 at home and have not been swept in a series of at least three games anywhere this season.
Do the Rays have anything left to play for this weekend? Debatable. They are the 1-seed with a two-game lead on the Twins and a 2½-game lead on the Athletics. But there is no big benefit to finishing the 1-seed as opposed to the 2- or 3-seed this season. There is home-field advantage for the top four seeds in each league in the first round but that’s it. After that, every team moves to the bubble cities.
Here are the games Phillies fans should keep an eye on Friday, ranked in order of importance:
The Padres are locked into the 4-seed in the National League, thus they have little to play for in their four-game series in San Francisco.
The Giants have everything to play for. They begin the series 28-28, a half-game ahead of the Phillies. The Phils possess the crucial tiebreaker over the Giants.
The Padres are starting two of their best tonight in Dinelson Lamet and Chris Paddack. The question is how long either one will go and how much their top position players will play. Fernando Tatis Jr. sat Thursday, for what it’s worth.
The Giants blew a multi-run lead and stranded the bases loaded late Thursday in an extra-inning loss to the Rockies.
This doubleheader begins at 7:10 p.m.
Marlins at Yankees
The Phillies could use some help this weekend from the 32-25 Yankees, who are two games back of the White Sox for the 4-seed and home-field advantage.
The White Sox hold the tiebreaker (divisional record), so the only way for the Yankees to move ahead into the 4-seed is by sweeping the Marlins as the White Sox are swept by the Cubs.
The same opportunity exists for the 8-seed Blue Jays, who would move ahead of the Yankees into second place in the AL East if they sweep and the Yankees are swept.
It means that the Yankees will still have something to play for against 29-28 Miami.
The Phillies lose the head-to-head tiebreaker to the Marlins because they dropped seven of 10 meetings this season. It means the Phillies must pick up two games on Miami this weekend. If the Phillies go 3-0, they need the Marlins to go 1-2 or worse to move into second place. If they go 2-1, they need the Marlins to lose all three.
Reds at Twins
The Reds are one game better than the Phillies and have clinched the tiebreaker. Both teams went 21-19 in divisional games so the next tiebreaker is the most recent 20 divisional games. The Reds went 12-8 and the Phillies went 8-12.
The Twins have slightly more to play for than the Rays this weekend. At 35-22, Minnesota is the 2-seed but only a game ahead of the White Sox. If the Twins move back to the 4-seed their first-round opponent would likely be the Yankees, a team that has ended their postseason dreams four times in a row and six of the last seven times the Twins made the playoffs.
The Reds plan to finish the season by pitching NL Cy Young-hopeful Trevor Bauer on short rest.
Same scenario as described above with the Marlins: The only way the Phillies can move ahead of the Reds is by gaining two games on them this weekend.
The most optimal result for the Phillies would be a split between these teams Friday night. Game 1 begins at 5:15 p.m.
If St. Louis (28-26) and Milwaukee (27-29) split and the Phillies win Friday, the Phils would be only a half-game behind the Cardinals. They’d also be one game up on the Brewers with possession of the tiebreaker.
Championship doubleheader set, but two fighters miss weight
The first event in the UFC’s return to Fight Island is set with a championship doubleheader following Friday’s UFC 253 weigh-in, although two fighters missed weight.
All four championship bout competitors hit the mark.
UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya weighed 184 pounds for his defense against challenger Paulo Costa, who stepped on the scale at 185 pounds.
In the history of the UFC, there has only been one men’s UFC title fight between undefeated fighters. That was Rashad Evans vs. Lyoto Machida at UFC 98 in 2009.
Saturday’s UFC 253 main event will be the second such bout, as Adesanya enters the fight at 19-0 and Costa holds a 13-0 record. But somebody’s O has to go at UFC 253.
The second half of the UFC 253 championship doubleheader features Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz squaring off for the light heavyweight title vacated by Jon Jones.
Reyes and Blachowicz each weighed 205 pounds, spot-on for their championship bout.
Two UFC 253 fighters miss weight
Zubaira Tukhugov stepped on the scale at 150 pounds for his featherweight bout with Hakeem Dawodu, a full 4 pounds over the allowed limit of 146 pounds. Dawodu weighed 145 pounds.
Late replacement L’udovit Klein also weighed 150 pounds for his featherweight prelim with opposite Shane Young. Young weighed 146 pounds.
UFC officials had not yet confirmed the status of either of those bouts at the time of publication. As long as the fighters are medically cleared, both bouts are likely to continue with the Dawodu and Young likely receiving a percentage of their opponents’ fight purse to keep the bouts intact.
TRENDING > UFC 253: Adesanya vs Costa Beach Face-Offs on Fight Island
UFC 253: Adesanya vs. Costa weigh-in results
Main Card (10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ Pay-Per-View)
- Israel Adesanya (184) vs. Paulo Costa (185)
- Dominick Reyes (205) vs. Jan Blachowicz (205)
- Kai Kara France (126) vs. Brandon Royval (126)
- Ketlen Vieira (136) vs. Sijara Eubanks (136)
- Hakeem Dawodu (145) vs. Zubaira Tukhugov (150)*
Preliminary Card (8 p.m. ET on ESPN+)
- Brad Riddell (156) vs. Alex da Silva (156)
- Diego Sanchez (170) vs. Jake Matthews (170)
- Shane Young (146) vs. L’udovit Klein (150)*
- William Knight (205) vs. Aleksa Camur (206)
- Juan Espino (255) vs. Jeff Hughes (258)
- Khadis Ibragimov (206) vs. Danilo Marques (206)
*Tukhugov and Klein missed weight
UFC 253 weigh-in: Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa
UFC 253 weigh-in: Dominick Reyes vs. Jan Blachowicz
(Videos courtesy of MMA Junkie)
Lakers, LeBron one win from NBA Finals
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — LeBron James called Denver Nuggets young star Jamal Murray one of the hottest players in the bubble. If the Los Angeles Lakers were to prevent the series from breaking even at 2-2, the guard needed to be stopped.
Murray penetrated and spun around Rajon Rondo for a contested, difficult, left-handed pull-up from 10 feet that found the bottom of the net, trimming the deficit to three with 6:27 left in the fourth quarter Thursday night. That gave him 30 points.
James had seen enough. He demanded the assignment of checking the youngster from that point on. The results: two free throws for Murray the rest of the way. With the Nuggets’ hottest player cooled off, Denver didn’t have enough firepower as the Lakers took a commanding 3-1 lead in the Western Conference finals with a 114-108 victory.
“I knew it was winning time, and Jamal had it going,” James, who finished with 26 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, said of his decision to guard Murray. “The kid is special. He has an array of shots. Triple threat from the three, mid-range and also in the paint. For me, it’s just trusting my defensive keys. Trusting my study of film. Trusting personnel. And living with the results. I told my teammates that I had him, and everyone else can kind of stay at bay and stay home. I was able to get a couple stops and we were able to rebound the basketball, which is the most important thing.”
Murray said he’s used to this type of attention from the opposing team’s best players.
“I mean, they switched [Anthony Davis] on me … too,” he said. “Obviously, with LeBron, I do the same stuff I do when I see [Alex] Caruso, when I see Rondo and [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope], and Kawhi [Leonard], Paul George and [Pat Beverley]. I mean, I do the same thing. Appreciate the respect, but we’ve got to win the game.”
Lakers coach Frank Vogel wanted a spark from the onset and made the move to start Dwight Howard at center in place of JaVale McGee. Previously in the series, Howard would be brought in to start the second quarter, and his physical play and energy affected Nuggets star Nikola Jokic at times.
Jokic never got it going offensively in Game 4, finishing with 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists and five personal fouls in 35 minutes.
“[Dwight] did his job,” Jokic said. “He had a really good first quarter. He kind of brought energy for them.”
Davis was locked in early on, establishing his dominance and scoring the Lakers’ first 10 points. The star forward had a game-high 34 points on 10-of-15 shooting, pulled down five boards and registered three steals in 40 minutes.
“I just came out, in my mind, to be ultra-aggressive, knowing that in our eyes, we don’t want to lose two on the road, and it was a must-win game for us,” Davis said.
Nuggets coach Mike Malone was frustrated with his team’s inability to get key defensive stops and rebounds in the second half. The Lakers won the rebounding battle 41-33 and snatched 12 offensive rebounds, double the amount of the Nuggets.
Malone vocalized his annoyance after the game.
“There were just a lot of breakdowns,” he said. “We had a stretch where LeBron misses a free throw, gets the offensive rebound, put-back. Caldwell-Pope drives the baseline, gets there, dunk. Caldwell-Pope comes to the basket, we don’t tag from the weakside, layup. Too many breakdowns.
“This is the Western Conference finals, Game 4. If you can’t help us on the defensive end, maybe you shouldn’t be on the floor. We have to be able to lock in, finish with a rebound. We had too many empty possessions tonight.”
Thursday’s postgame was the first time James was made available to the media since a Kentucky grand jury on Wednesday decided against bringing charges against three Louisville police officers for the killing of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor.
Taylor, a Black woman, was killed inside her home when police were trying to execute a warrant to locate a man during a narcotics investigation. As soon as the grand jury decision was announced, protests erupted in the city and across the country. There were questions of whether the players would once again walk out and refuse to participate in the conference finals.
“We didn’t talk about that,” James said. “One thing, we wanted to be there for our brother, [Rondo]. As much as it’s devastating to us, you can only imagine it happening in your backyard. ’Do being from Louisville, we knew how tough it had to be on his family and the locals there. No, we didn’t discuss [walking out] one bit. But can’t say that we were surprised at the verdict. None of us are surprised at it. That’s what’s more devastating, that none of us were surprised at what the outcome was.”
The Nuggets have been down this road before in the bubble. They are the only team in NBA history to have come back from two 3-1 series deficits to advance in the same postseason. The last time the Lakers played in the NBA Finals was in 2010. Something’s got to give, and now L.A. is one win away from the title round, with Game 5 on Saturday.
“You can never be comfortable around this team,” Davis said. “They have been in this situation twice. We’ve been in this situation twice. But both teams are familiar with these situations, but this team is not going to go away. You know, like I said last game, we’ve got to put them away. They are going to continue to fight, no matter what the score is, no matter what the situation is, we just have to make sure we counter everything they do.”
Said Vogel: “We have great respect for this team and definitely know that we have a lot of work to do to finish this series.”
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