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Vikings ranked among bottom half of teams in Week 1 power rankings

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Vikings ranked among bottom half of teams in Week 1 power rankings

The Vikings suffered a home defeat to the Packers in Week 1.

A team that many tabbed to contend for the playoffs had obvious weak areas and Green Bay took full advantage.

It wasn’t the best of showings. So it’s not a surprise that the Vikings earned a bottom-half ranking in a recent Week 1 power rankings.

Our friends at Touchdown Wire ranked all 32 teams after Sunday, and Minnesota earned No. 20 on the outlet’s list. Here’s what it said about the pick:

“Kirk Cousins was efficient but ordinary in Minnesota’s 43-34 loss to the Packers, completing 19 of 25 passes for 259 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception, but the game plan didn’t exactly help him when it was required that he match Aaron Rodgers’ four-touchdown firepower.”

Cousins should have an easier time matching quarterback Philip Rivers, who is the starter in Indianapolis. The Vikings will need him to do that in order for Minnesota to bounce back in Week 2.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Dodgers carry fewer pitchers on the roster for the best-of-three wild card round

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Dodgers carry fewer pitchers on the roster for the best-of-three wild card round

The Dodgers announced their roster for the wild card round against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday hours ahead of Game 1 and it included a few changes from how they finished the regular season.

Outfielder and pinch-running specialist Terrance Gore, infielder Matt Beaty and catcher Keibert Ruiz were included in the 28-man group. Left-handed pitcher Alex Wood, right-handed pitcher Dylan Floro and second baseman Gavin Lux, the organization’s top prospect entering the season, were left off.

The team will carry 13 pitchers, fewer than they did during regular season and fewer than they would in the following rounds when the series is longer and pitching depth is more necessary.

Lux’s exclusion represents a detour in the Dodgers’ plans. The club envisioned the 22-year-old as their everyday second baseman once he joined the major league team in late August. But he was overwhelmed at the plate, to the point that the Dodgers decided he would only start against right-handed pitchers. By Wednesday, after the struggles continued through the end of the regular season, they had decided he didn’t warrant a roster spot.

Wood began the season in the starting rotation but landed on the injured list with shoulder inflammation after his first start and returned as a reliever five weeks later. He wasn’t effective in the role, allowing eight runs (six earned) in eight outings, which included a two-inning start as an opener.

Floro is the most surprising omission. He allowed seven runs in 24 1/3 innings this season — and three of the runs came in one outing. He didn’t allow a baserunner in 2 1/3 innings over his final three appearances.

Even though the regular-season rule that had extra innings begin with a runner on second is not in force during the playoffs, Gore is on the roster strictly as a pinch-runner. The 29-year-old speedster has 77 career plate appearances in seven major league seasons. He has nine career playoff games on his résumé, but just two at-bats. He struck out both times. He has five steals and was caught once.

Ruiz, one of six rookies on the roster, will serve as the team’s third catcher. His inclusion will give the Dodgers a safety net in Game 2 when they are expected to have Austin Barnes catch Clayton Kershaw and Will Smith start as the designated hitter. Ruiz, 22, homered in his major league debut this season and appeared in two games.

Beaty, 27, is on the playoff roster for the second straight year. He was on the team’s opening day roster but was optioned in early September and was never called back up. He batted .220 with a .638 OPS in 54 plate appearances. He provides insurance at third base should Justin Turner’s left hamstring injury resurface.

Dodgers wild card round roster (28)

PITCHERS (13)

RHP Pedro Baéz

RHP Walker Buehler

RHP Tony Gonsolin

LHP Victor González

RHP Brusdar Graterol

RHP Kenley Jansen

RHP Joe Kelly

LHP Clayton Kershaw

LHP Adam Kolarek

RHP Dustin May

LHP Jake McGee

RHP Blake Treinen

LHP Julio Urías

POSITION PLAYERS (15)

C Austin Barnes

IF Matt Beaty (L)

1B/OF Cody Bellinger (L)

OF Mookie Betts

OF Terrance Gore

IF/OF Kiké Hernández

IF Max Muncy (L)

OF Joc Pederson (L)

OF AJ Pollock

IF Edwin Ríos (L)

C Keibert Ruiz (S)

SS Corey Seager (L)

C Will Smith

IF/OF Chris Taylor

3B Justin Turner

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Texans coach Bill O’Brien explains why Earl Thomas workout was canceled

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Texans coach Bill O’Brien explains why Earl Thomas workout was canceled

On Monday, the Houston Texans were going to bring in former All-Pro safety Earl Thomas for a workout. On Tuesday, the team suddenly nixed the workout.

In his Wednesday presser with the Houston media, coach and general manager Bill O’Brien explained why the club decided to forgo the workout with Thomas.

“Earl Thomas is a hell of a player,” O’Brien said via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “He’s had a great career. Again, we had a bunch of guys in and we decided to cancel. We’ll see how it goes moving forward. That’s really what it was. It’s not anything other than that and we’ve got a lot of respect for Earl.”

The Texans had Thomas at a local hotel and were awaiting the results of a COVID test. However, the COVID positive tests affecting the Tennessee Titans and subsequently the contact tracing involving the Minnesota Vikings, Houston’s Week 4 opponent, had the Texans considering whether or not to workout anybody at all.

“We had a bunch of guys in here ready to work out,” said O’Brien. “We said instead of keeping those guys holed up in a hotel, potentially to be there for several days. We didn’t know at that point. It was better for us to just cancel the workouts.”

The Texans placed safety A.J. Moore on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. Although Moore will be able to come back as soon as three weeks, the Texans are still down a safety in the meantime.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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NASCAR at long last adds schedule variety with 2021 changes

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NASCAR at long last adds schedule variety with 2021 changes

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR promised radical changes to the 2021 schedule and delivered Wednesday with six road courses, the first dirt race for the Cup Series since 1970 and new stops in Nashville, Tennessee, and Austin, Texas.

Dropped from the lineup were Kentucky Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway, two ”cookie-cutter” intermediate tracks that were part of a staid schedule that lacked variation or originality. Michigan International Speedway, Dover International Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway each lost one of two Cup Series points races.

Atlanta Motor Speedway and Darlington Speedway in South Carolina each added a second race to their schedules.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway will move the Cup Series cars to its road course after 27 years of racing on the big oval. The revamped ”Brickyard Weekend” also will feature a new IndyCar Series race, making it a doubleheader for the second year in a row.

Indinapolis joins Road America in rural Wisconsin and the Circuit of the Americas in Austin as new road course events on a schedule that already included Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, Watkins Glen (N.Y.) and the Charlotte Roval. NASCAR for decades ran at just two road courses eac season and will now have six to satisfy fans who have begged for more diversity on the schedule.

Speedway Motorsports will promote the road course event at COTA after moving its traditional spring date at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth to the venue. To compensate for the loss of the points race at TMS, Speedway Motorsports has moved the All-Star race from Charlotte to Fort Worth.

”Everything is bigger in Texas, including our passion for NASCAR and NASCAR will be even bigger and better in Texas in 2021 with the addition of this race in Austin,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said.

The All-Star race began in 1985 and was held at Charlotte Motor Speedway every year but one until this season, when the pandemic caused a relocation to Bristol Motor Speedway in East Tennessee.

Bristol will also experiment with a dirt race by filling the 0.533-mile bullring with dirt for the first race of its kind since Richard Petty won at the half-mile State Fairgrounds Speedway in Raleigh on September 30, 1970.

The March 28 dirt race will replace Bristol’s traditional spring race on the concrete as NASCAR chose the track over dozens of existing and proven dirt tracks across the country. The most noticeable snub was to the Tony Stewart-owned Eldora Speedway in Ohio, which hosted the Truck Series from 2013 until this year’s race was canceled by the pandemic.

NASCAR scheduled a full release of the 2021 lineup later Wednesdaybut individual tracks began announcing their plans earlier.

Kentucky Speedway is off the schedule for the first time since 2011. The original owners of the track in Sparta filed a federal lawsuit against NASCAR for the right to host a Cup Series race and the fight dragged on from 2005 until 2009. Speedway Motorsports eventually bought the property and moved a race to Kentucky in 2011.

The battle to land Cup races has long been difficult as NASCAR controlled the schedule and tracks paid sanctioning fees to host events. Because NASCAR also owned most of the major facilities, it controlled the market and dictated which tracks got Cup races.

Legal challenges began in 2002 when a Texas man named Francis Ferko filed a lawsuit demanding a second race at Texas Motor Speedway. The suit dragged on until settlement talks between Speedway Motorsports, owner of Texas Motor Speedway, and International Speedway Corp., the arm of NASCAR that controlled its properties, delivered a second race to Fort Worth.

Little has changed to the schedule since Kentucky was added, and in 2015 NASCAR signed five-year sanctioning agreements with the tracks that guaranteed race dates through 2020. The contracts left little room for overhaul, but NASCAR understood fans had grown disgruntled with the same old schedule.

NASCAR vowed to address it in 2021, the first year after the contracts expired. The pandemic this season forced a slew of changes, including doubleheader weekends, midweek races and a shared weekend with IndyCar.

The 2021 schedule has no midweek races on it because television ratings did not match the perceived fan enthusiasm for Wednesday nights.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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