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MLB

Week 7 Powerless Rankings: Did your favorite NFL team make the bottom 5?

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MLB

Odell Beckham Jr: Cleveland Browns wideout expected to be out for season with torn ACL

Odell Beckham Jr. is expected to miss the rest of the season after suffering an ACL injury in his left knee during Cleveland Browns’ 37-34 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

The wide receiver was involved in an awkward first-quarter collision while attempting to chase down Darius Phillips after he had intercepted Baker Mayfield.

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Beckham received treatment on the field and was taken straight to the locker room. An MRI Monday confirmed Beckham tore the ACL in his left knee.

OBJ had entered the game with 23 catches for 319 yards and three touchdowns, and off the back of a down week last Sunday in which he had just two catches for 25 yards in a heavy defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He has three years remaining on the five-year Browns contract he signed in August of 2018.

Dalton knocked out of Cowboys defeat

In other major injury news from Sunday night, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton was knocked out of their game against Washington after a brutal hit from linebacker Jon Bostic.

Dalton was motionless on the turf before regaining his senses and being helped to the locker room as he exited the game with a concussion. Bostic was ejected from the game for the hit.

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy was left less than pleased with his team’s response to Bostic’s hit on Dalton.

Rookie Ben DiNucci entered the game for the Cowboys at QB as they slipped to a heavy 25-3 defeat. The Cowboys announced after the game that Dalton was “alert” and “in good spirits”.

Washington were dealt an injury blow of their own, with safety Landon Collins believed to have suffered a season-ending Achilles injury.

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Soccer

Klopp says Liverpool have coped 'as well as possible' without Van Dijk

‘Any team would miss him because he’s the best defender in the world’: Jurgen Klopp insists his Liverpool side have coped ‘as well as possible’ in the absence of injured star Virgil van Dijk

  • Jurgen Klopp has praised his side for adapting without Virgil van Dijk
  • Liverpool won both their games last week without the injured defender 
  • Klopp said: ‘We did pretty well and that will get better 100 per cent’
  • Liverpool boss expects a tough game against Midtjylland on Tuesday evening 

Jurgen Klopp has admitted he has been impressed with how his Liverpool side have coped in the absence of Virgil van Dijk.

Liverpool claimed hard-fought victories over Ajax and Sheffield United last week without centre back van Dijk, who required surgery on his knee after suffering a potentially season-ending injury in the draw at Everton.

Fabinho, who normally plays as a defensive midfielder, has been tasked with filling in for the injured Dutchman at the back alongside Joe Gomez and has received praise for adapting to the circumstances quickly. 

Jurgen Klopp has praised his side for how well they’ve coped without Virgil van Dijk

Klopp, who confirmed he will be without Thiago, Naby Keita and Joel Matip for Tuesday night’s Champions League game with Midtjylland, said Liverpool are doing as well as they could without ‘the best defender in the world’.

Speaking at his press conference on Monday, he said: ‘Every team in the world would miss Virgil van Dijk. 

‘He is the best centre back in the world. You play a game he gets injured and you play three days later so of course that’s difficult to do because all the boys played together with him and we didn’t have long for them to get used to playing without him.

Virgil van Dijk is set for a lengthy period on the sidelines after sustaining a serious knee injury

‘And Fabinho, who normally plays as a six, has had to come in and play with Joe. 

‘For that we did pretty well and that will get better 100 per cent because unfortunately everything in life takes time and defending takes time.

‘We expect not perfection but not too far away from perfection. Everyone needs time to replace a massive person or player and so far we’ve done pretty well.’ 

The Liverpool boss also insisted that it does not give them any advantage because throw-in coach Thomas Gronnemark previously spent a spell working with Tuesday night’s opponents Midtjylland.

Fabinho has done well filling in for the injured van Dijk in the Liverpool defence

‘I think We are the Thomas Gronnemark group because he also worked with Ajax as well,’ he said.

‘We saw his influence when we analysed Midtjylland actually. He will be proud. Thomas is a professional, so he won’t tell us the answers about them or what they are doing now. He is a super guy and has helped us a lot. 

‘Throw-ins a big part for us because there are a lot of teams who make mistakes during this situation. But it is not the only part for us because we think about a lot.’

Klopp added: ‘Since yesterday I know a lot about Midtjylland. I knew a little bit about the story of the club, using science different ways and it’s a very interesting project I have to say. 

Klopp expects a tough game with Midtjylland, who he felt were unlucky to lost 4-0 to Atalanta

‘From yesterday I have watched a lot of games and I’m in the picture. They are good, very good. The 4-0 [against Atalanta] was not like this type of game. In my break, I was interested to go there for a while just to see what they do, but I signed for Liverpool so I couldn’t. Even five years ago it was interesting. 

‘They are flexible as well and it’s a challenge. They have my respect, we really respect them. We are not like we are Liverpool and big and they are just small Midtjyilland. They shouldn’t be waving the white flag already because it is not like this. 

‘You aren’t in the Champions League because you are a nice city or whatever, you are here because you deserve to be and then you show how good you are on the pitch.’ 




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Racing

Lando Norris angry with Lance Stroll after crash at Portuguese GP

Lando Norris has delivered a scathing assessment of Lance Stroll after their coming together at the Portuguese GP, insisting the Racing Point driver “crashes a lot” and vowing to “stay away” from him in future races.

Stroll and Norris made contact on Lap 17 when the Canadian attempted a risky move around the outside into Turn One, turning into his midfield rival and spinning off the track. He received a five-second penalty for the incident, and later picked up another for track limits before retiring the car.

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Norris also picked up damage, and eventually finished 13th and outside the points in the McLaren. The young Briton criticised Stroll, who also collided into Verstappen at the same corner during Friday practice at Portimao, and claimed he “doesn’t learn from anything he does”.

“I don’t know what he was doing really,” said Norris. “He went to the left which I was quite surprised by, when he very easily could have gone to the inside. I was easily halfway alongside and he just turned in.

“He obviously didn’t learn from Friday but he doesn’t seem to learn from anything he does. It happens a lot with him, so I just need to stay away.”

A frustrated Norris added: “It wasn’t a nice battle. I don’t know what I’m meant to say… he crashes a lot.

“I don’t know if he can’t see properly in the right side or something. He ruined his own race, he ruined my race, it was his fault.”

Norris believes McLaren could have scored “good points” on Sunday – Carlos Sainz was sixth in the other car – and insisted Stroll “didn’t need to risk what he did” as he was “much quicker” in what was a battle for seventh.

“I don’t know why he tried to be a hero,” he stated.

Speaking to Sky F1 immediately after his race DNF, Stroll said he hadn’t seen the replay but that he felt Norris’ positioning was “a bit awkward”. Team boss Otmar Szafnauer also felt Stroll’s penalty was harsh.

“I just went around the outside,” said Stroll. “It was a bit awkward as he was kind of in the middle of the track and I wasn’t sure if he was going to go to the inside or stay on the line.”

He continued: “I had to make a split-second decision and I was on the outside over the kerb. From there I just turned into the corner and I guess there wasn’t enough room for both of us, so that was that.”

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Soccer

Swindon vs Accrington off due to positive COVID-19 tests

Accrington’s Sky Bet League One trip to Swindon on Tuesday has been postponed following positive Covid-19 tests at Stanley.

It comes after Stanley’s weekend game against Bristol Rovers was called off after eight of their players tested positive for coronavirus.

“The decision follows the recent positive Covid-19 tests and the requirement for players and staff to self-isolate as per EFL (English Football League) and Government guidance in order to mitigate against the risk of further infection,” said a statement on the Accrington website.

  • Oxford-Swindon match postponed after positive tests
  • Charles returns to seal Accrington win

“The circumstances surrounding the postponement will now be the subject of investigation in accordance with EFL regulations.”

Swindon’s League One match against Oxford United last Saturday was postponed after a number of positive coronavirus cases at the Wiltshire club.

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The teams were due to meet at the Kassam Stadium but that match was also postponed until a later date.

Swindon are above the bottom three only on goal difference, while Accrington are 10th in the table with 12 points from their opening seven games.

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MLB

Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger far from perfect foils to Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs atop AFC

The Steelers are the last undefeated team standing in the AFC and, with the Seahawks’ Sunday night loss, the entire NFL after Week 7, improving to 6-0 after handing the Titans (5-1) their first loss of the 2020 season. That doesn’t mean they have fully emerged as a real threat to dethrone the reigning Super Bowl champion Chiefs (6-1) as conference champions. Until proven otherwise, the Chiefs, and not the Steelers, remain the best team in the AFC.

While Pittsburgh held on to win at Tennessee, 27-24 on Sunday, Kansas City delivered a 43-16 victory in Denver later in the afternoon. Over the past two weeks, the Steelers have padded their resume better with wins over the Browns (5-2) and Titans. For now, the Chiefs most impressive wins have come against the Ravens (5-1) and Bills (5-2).

The Steelers have been strong all around this season. Their defense stops the run and rushes the passer at a high level. The offense has a strong baseline of running with James Conner and others. They have endless weaponry in the passing game for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, on track to be the league’s Comeback Player of the Year.

But despite the flawless results in record and standings for the new AFC North leaders, Pittsburgh is showing some concerning peccadillos that scream it won’t match up well with Kansas City when it counts most in the playoffs. The Steelers and Chiefs do not play in the regular season.

After the win over the Titans, when the Steelers were on the brink of blowing a 27-7 lead until Stephen Gostkowski missed the game-tying field-goal attempt before the end of regulation, coach Mike Tomlin pointed to some of the issues.

“We knew they wouldn’t flinch. They have been in these types of games more than we have. We knew that that was a winning edge for them, and it showed” Tomlin said of the Titans’ comeback. “We had something to do with how the game got as well. We gave up a big play for a touchdown. We turned the ball over. You do those things against good people they’re going to get back in the game 100 percent of the time.

“Thankfully our guys didn’t blink and were able to hold it together and make enough plays to secure a victory. (We’re) not a perfect product. We understand that. But I appreciate their efforts. We are perfect from a record standpoint and so we respect that.”

Here’s breaking down Tomlin’s concerns about his team’s weaknesses even further as they relate to the Chiefs’ strengths

Steelers have a lot of big-play lapses

Tomlin was right in citing that “big play for a touchdown,” which was a 73-yard catch and run by the Titans’ best wide receiver, A.J. Brown. That gave Tennessee life to get back into the game in the middle of the third quarter. Two weeks ago against the Eagles, when they mostly shut down Miles Sanders, they still gave up a 74-yard TD run. With the exception of Week 6 against the Browns, the Steelers have surrendered chunk plays in every game. 

There are some series where it’s impossible to move the ball on the Steelers, as teams get behind schedule on early downs before facing pressure in obvious third-down passing situations. But then sometimes th Steelers get overaggressive or overrun a play, losing some discipline at critical times.

That’s not a good formula against Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and the rest of the Chiefs’ speedy playmakers. Teams have been protecting against being burned downfield by Mahomes and Hill on home runs, making the Chiefs methodically move the ball down the field with running and short-to-intermediate passing. But it’s still Mahomes, who doesn’t need much an opening to deliver a deep backbreaker. They also are getting more receivers involved and picking good spots to take their shots.

In the second half against Ryan Tannehill, the Steelers struggled to finish their rushes. That’s happened a lot for teams vs. Mahomes, not getting to him and wearing down in the fourth quarter. The Steelers have faced several athletic QBs who adjust well to buy extra time against them.

Steelers cornerbacks are struggling

Related to the first item, outside starters Steven Nelson and Joe Haden and nickel Mike Hilton have been taking turns being shaky in coverage. Nelson, a ballhawk, has often lost his man when not making a play on the ball. Haden is starting to show his age in slowing down at 31. Hilton is typically sound covering the slot, but he’s had his share of whiffs. When the Steelers aren’t getting sacks and a QB can buy some time, there are plays to be made with wide receivers all over the field. That’s been seen with Wentz, Tannehill, Daniel Jones and Deshaun Watson. The Steelers are better against tight ends with safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and others.

Mahomes has good versatility at wide receiver with which to attack, seen in both Hill’s interchangeable outside-inside impact and in how effective they remain without Sammy Watkins, going No. 2 by committee based on matchup with Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman. Then you have to consider the attention Travis Kelce merits as the toughest AFC tight end to cover. Between Nelson, Haden and Hilton, Mahomes can find someone to consistently exploit from one pass play to another vs. the Steelers.

Steelers aren’t consistently putting away teams

The Steelers beat the Giants by 10 in Week 1 and the Eagles by 9 in Week 5 and both games felt a lot closer than the final scores would indicate. They also had one-possession wins against the Broncos, Texans and Titans. You would think Pittsburgh is built to pile on and continue to rattle teams trying to catch up or stay with its offense. But the big-play lapses and cornerback issues are opening the door for opponents to stay in games.

They have the potential to dominate and smash teams all-around like they did with the Browns. Tomlin mentioned the Titans’ experience in showing fight and resolve. The Chiefs built plenty of that equity in last season’s playoffs, coming back strong to beat the Texans, Titans and 49ers with Mahomes. 

The Raiders were able to beat the Chiefs with the ideal blend of ball control and big plays of their own. The Steelers’ offense can do that to try to keep Mahomes off the field, but he needs only the slightest chance to lift the Chiefs when they’re down.

Steelers masking issues with Ben Roethlisberger

Roethlisberger is 38 and coming off a season mostly lost to a major right elbow injury. The reports from the Steelers since the early offseason were that he was on track for a full recovery, which has been the case. That said, his arm isn’t at full strength and the Steelers’ passing game is getting it done with a lot of short passes and good work after the catch by wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson, among others. 

Consider Big Ben went into Week 7 ranked No. 24 in the NFL in intended air yards from quarterback. He also was 27th in intended air yards per passing attempt and No. 29 in completed air yards per completion (4.9). Because of calculated, careful passing, Roehtlisberger had only one interception before throwing three against the Titans.

With Tennessee able to slow down Pittsburgh’s rushing attack, Roethlisberger threw more than expected with a significant lead, averaging 5.5 yards over his 49 attempts. He was forcing the issue with fitting the ball deep at time. Two of his interceptions came when the Steelers were in position to score points, once late in the red zone. Like with the Saints’ Drew Brees, there is some natural, noticeable dropoff with Roehtlisberger.

The Raiders were able to get the better of Mahomes and the Chiefs in Week 5 because they had the ideal blend of ball control and effective, aggressive downfield passing from Derek Carr. The Steelers went into Week 7 as the top NFL team in time of possession, four spots better than the Raiders in that regard.

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There’s not a feeling that the Steelers would be comfortable in true shootout mode with Roethlsibeger vs. Mahomes. And where they are weak in coverage plays right into the right arm of Mahomes.

The Chiefs already have dispatched four of the five teams that made the AFC playoffs with them in 2020. They don’t play the Titans, either, so they won’t make it six, but they did plenty to prove their worth vs. pretty much the same Tennessee team in AFC title game.

That would add up to thinking the Steelers have made it more than just a two-team race, also overtaking the Chiefs as AFC favorites. The reality is, like every team in the NFL, Pittsburgh is nothing resembling perfection, given the team nearly blew it big-time in a close game with a contender it is supposed to be leapfrogging on the way to Kansas City.

The Steelers definitely seem equipped to take back the AFC North from the Ravens, their bye-returning opponent in Baltimore in Week 8. Lamar Jackson is going through some shaky downfield passing and the Ravens have had trouble getting their traditional running game going. Those issues, plus the Ravens’ limited receiving depth, mean the Steelers match up much better with the Ravens than the Chiefs.

Getting back to winning the division is the first obstacle the Steelers must clear to stay undefeated, but more important, to work toward a more favorable playoff position. As for being built to beat the Chiefs and being better than the Chiefs, that isn’t the case. With the Patriots suddenly dying as a contender, there’s room for a new Steelers intraconference nemesis to emerge. The Chiefs are the ones perfect for that role.

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MLB

Pro-Trump caravan attendees claim DeAndre Hopkins flipped them off in traffic

Donald Trump supporters are claiming that Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins flipped them off in traffic ahead of his game Sunday night against the Seahawks.

The Trump supporters were driving around “in a caravan of hundreds of vehicles circling Valley highways as a parade of sorts,” per the Arizona Republic. Some attendees in that caravan posted photos on social media of what appears to be Hopkins giving them two middle fingers.

Hopkins has been outspoken about racism, and has increased his efforts this season. Hopkins joined Deshaun Watson this offseason in signing a petition to remove references to slave owner John C. Calhoun at Clemson University. Hopkins is also wearing Denmark Vesey on the back of his helmet, a reference to an African American leader in the fight against slavery in Hopkins’ home state of South Carolina.

The Cardinals did not comment on the matter.

According to the Arizona Republic, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said it “did not have a record of a traffic stop involving Hopkins.” However, it did say it “would comment Monday on the legality of the caravans, where hundreds of vehicles often drive below the speed limit on highways.”

Hopkins finished Sunday night’s game against the Seahawks with 10 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown.

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MLB

Hugh Freeze, Tom Herman and forecasting college football’s coaching carousel

  • College football reporter.
  • Joined ESPN.com in 2008.
  • Graduate of Northwestern University.

We know the college football coaching carousel will be limited this year. The only question is: How much?

Financial challenges stemming from the coronavirus pandemic are real. When combined with reduced game schedules and coach-friendly contracts, schools will need extreme motivation to make changes in the coming weeks.

This past weekend wasn’t very good for those rooting for carousel craziness. The thought of 10-15 coaching changes, half of a typical coaching cycle, seems highly unlikely.

So let’s speculate instead. Last year, when things were normal but the upcoming carousel looked a little dull, I put together a list of hypotheticals. Too many people didn’t read the operative word — “hypothetical”– but it was fun to forecast what could happen.

What follows isn’t necessarily a prediction, but a rundown of potential carousel nuggets (spicy ones!), based on what industry sources are telling me. Though it’s unlikely all of these send the carousel spinning, something will. Even a pandemic won’t stop some coaching movement.

“There’s a path,” a source said, “that this thing could open up.”

Let’s walk that path together.

Second chances for Sarkisian and Freeze?

The off-field problems that cost Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and Liberty coach Hugh Freeze the opportunities to lead Power 5 programs are not the same. Sarkisian’s struggles with alcoholism led to his departure from USC. Freeze, meanwhile, resigned from Ole Miss in July 2017 amid personal conduct issues that included calls to a female escort service.

But Sarkisian and Freeze are thriving in their current roles. Sarkisian oversees arguably the nation’s most explosive offense and has molded quarterback Mac Jones into a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. Liberty on Saturday improved to 6-0, giving Freeze a 14-5 record with the Flames, an FBS independent. Former Auburn quarterback Malik Willis is blossoming under Freeze, who has produced top offenses throughout his career.

Both men are excellent offensive playcallers and recruiters. Both have SEC experience. Could a major opportunity be on the horizon?

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Tennis

French Open winner Iga Swiatek in quarantine after meeting Polish President Andrzej Duda

French Open winner Iga Swiatek is in quarantine after she met Polish President Andrzej Duda who subsequently tested positive for coronavirus.

Mr Duda’s diagnosis comes amid a huge surge in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and deaths in Poland, a nation that saw only very low numbers in the spring.

On Friday, Mr Dudda visited the National Stadium in Warsaw, which is being transformed into one of the field hospitals.

He also met Swiatek, the 19-year-old tennis star who won the Roland Garros title earlier this month.

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Swiatek, who was awarded the Gold Cross of Merit for her achievements in sports and promotion of the country internationally, said on Saturday she felt good, but will quarantine.

“Neither I nor members of my team have symptoms of coronavirus. We carry out tests regularly. We will quarantine ourselves in accordance with current procedures,” she said in a Twitter post.

  • Federer expects Australian Open return
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Poland is seeing a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, with new infections hitting a daily record of 13,632 on Friday. The country recorded 13,628 new cases on Saturday.

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Soccer

Man Utd striker plan becomes clear amid Cavani’s first impressions in training

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still harbours ambitions of signing Erling Haaland, it has been claimed.

The Red Devils aggressively pursued the Norwegian striker's signature last year when he was still plying his trade with RB Salzburg.

Haaland, however, snubbed the opportunity to move to Old Trafford in favour of a transfer to Borrusia Dortmund, who he's thrived with.

Dortmund's acquisition of the 20-year-old, who they signed last December for a meagre £17million, hasn't end United's interest in signing the prolific striker.

That's according to The Atheltic, who claim United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still eager to acquire his countryman's services.

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Solskjaer's bid to sign Haaland ultimately failed due to United's fractured relationship with super-agent Mino Raiola.

However, it's said that "bridges" between Solskjaer and Haaland are still intact. Solskjaer, of course, managed Haaland during his stint as FC Molde boss.

Solskjaer's eagerness to sign Haaland is said to be so strong that he's keen to bring him to The Theatre of Dreams at the "earliest opportunity".

Due to a clause in his contract, United will be able to sign the Dortmund hitman for £75million in the summer of 2022.

The summer of 2022 could be when United new-boy Edinson Cavani departs Old Trafford. The Red Devils signed the Uruguayan striker, who was a free agent, to a one-year deal earlier this month.

United do, however, have the option to extend the 33-year-old's current deal by a further 12 months.

The Old Trafford brass could be tempted to do just that as it's claimed he's "made a very good impression" on everyone at the club in his first week of training at Carrington.

He will, however, have to produce results on the pitch to be rewarded with a 12-month extension.

Cavani and his Manchester United team-mates will be back in action on Wednesday night, welcoming RB Leipzig to Old Trafford for their second Champions League Group H match.

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