Samajwadi Party MP Azam Khan’s name has been put on an online list of land mafia by the district administration here following FIRs registered against him, drawing strong protest from his party. The SP raised the issue in the Legislative Council alleging that he is being framed in “fake” cases.The State government dismissed the allegations, saying that it was treating everyone the same and the action was not driven by any political vendetta.Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath alleged that Rampur was an example of “land-grabbing” culture under the previous SP government. “The name of the Rampur MP has been put on the list of anti-land mafia portal of the State government on Thursday after FIRs were lodged against him on land-grabbing charges,” Additional District Magistrate (Administration) J.P. Gupta said. “The listing was done by the SDM Sadar,” he said. The former State Minister was named in the FIRs lodged in connection with alleged forcible acquisition of land for Mohammad Ali Jauhar University, of which he is the founder and Chancellor. District Magistrate A.K. Singh said the “farmers had claimed that Azam Khan had acquired their land for University through coercion”. “The name of those who have acquired someone’s land with alleged criminal acts and continue to have possession over it are included in the list,” the DM added. The SP, however, alleged that the move was a conspiracy by the Rampur DM to defame Mr. Khan and the university.21-member panelSP president Akhilesh Yadav has constituted a 21-member committee, led by the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, Ahmad Hasan, to “probe fake cases” against Mr. Khan.Proceedings in the Legislative Council were disrupted on Friday as the SP members protested against the issue. As soon as the House assembled at 11 a.m., Mr. Hasan raised the issue, saying, “The most painful thing is that Khan has taken land for building a university and not for any personal gains. In which direction is the government going? Azam Khan is part of the land mafia?” Leader of the House and Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma termed the SP’s allegations “baseless”. “The government is treating everyone in the same manner, and it is not an act of vengeance.” “The allegations are baseless, and do not have any link with the policy and intention of the government,” he said. He added that since Mr. Khan is not a member of the House, the matter cannot be raised. Following this, Mr. Hasan requested the Chair that an all-party committee be formed, but Mr. Sharma opposed it. Amid unruly scenes, the Deputy CM sought cooperation of the Opposition to run the House. But the agitated SP members trooped into the Well, prompting Chairman Ramesh Yadav to adjourn the House till 12 noon. When the House re-assembled, Mr. Hasan raised the matter and SP members came into the Well of the House. Later, the Chairman adjourned the House till Monday.
Man Utd watching Napoli star Fabian Ruizby Paul Vegas9 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United have been watching Napoli star Fabian RuizThe Spanish international, 23, has risen to stardom since joining Napoli from Real Betis for £26million in 2018.And his exploits have attracted the attention of Real Madrid and Barcelona, who are in the market for a new control midfielder.Goal claim the Spanish heavyweights will battle it out for Ruiz next summer, but Napoli plan to tie him to a new contract with an £87million release clause.And the Manchester Evening News says United were also monitoring Ruiz over the summer. TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
zoom The Panama Canal Authority expects to see a rise in the number of liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers, mainly driven by increasing exports of fuel from the United States.Namely, the LNG tanker traffic would go up by 50 percent by September on the back of a growing global demand for LNG, Reuters said, citing Jorge L. Quijano, Panama Canal Authority’s CEO.During the final quarter of 2017, the canal welcomed 60 LNG tankers, up from 43 tankers received in the same quarter a year earlier. As the demand for LNG continues rising, the Panama Canal expects to see one LNG tanker sail through its locks each day, Quijano told Reuters.US exports via the Panama Canal decreased temporarily in September 2017, due to damages caused by Hurricane Harvey to several Texas and Louisiana ports, but recovered in the following months.LNG vessels, which have an average canal water time of 20.5 hours, including waiting and transit times, represent about 9 percent of transits through the canal’s new locks.Earlier in 2017, Quijano informed that the canal expects to nearly double LNG carrier transits through the waterway by 2020 driven by US exports of natural gas.“The shale revolution in the United States not only has produced a quantum leap in terms of technology and volumes, but has also become a catalyst for the development and rapid evolution of a growing spot market, swaps and short-term contracts that were unthinkable a few years ago,” Quijano said.Based on the canal authority’s figures, the LNG segment has been surpassing the canal’s original expectations of one transit per week, and on average, 5.2 LNG vessels have transited the canal per week.World Maritime News Staff
MONTREAL – Employees at more than 400 Quebec Liquor Corp. outlets across the province held a one-day strike Tuesday in a bid to jump-start contract negotiations.It was the first of six strike days their union has planned as pressure tactics against the Crown corporation.The walkout affected most of the province’s liquor outlets, but management personnel was used to keep more than 60 outlets open.In June, the unionized employees voted 91 per cent in favour of the one-day strikes that are to take place at the opportune moment.The 5,500 workers have been without a contract since March 31, 2017, but negotiations have been ongoing for 16 months.Previous talks took place in late June and last week and the union determined the resumption of the discussions Tuesday was a good time to launch the strike.“The employer has moved a bit on its demands but it is not withdrawing its demands,” union president Katia Lelievre told The Canadian Press.The issue of schedules and work hours is at the heart of the impasse, with the union saying the government wants employees with more experience to work evenings and weekends, which the union considers a major setback.“There is no lack of employees on the weekend,” Lelievre said.She said 70 per cent of employees work part-time and already do full weekends, while more than one-half of the 30 per cent of full-time employees work at least one day on the weekend.In a statement, the liquor corporation said the 60-odd outlets that remained open were staffed by managers.“The SAQ (the corporation) wants to simplify its work methods and is proposing solutions that will both meet its need for flexibility while responding to the union’s priorities and demands, especially when it comes to getting full-time jobs, ensuring the quality of schedules as well as increasing the number of guaranteed hours for part-time employees,” the statement said.
UPDATE – On Saturday, February 2nd, 2019, a Canada Wide Warrant for Being Unlawfully at Large was issued for 31-year-old Tal Kalum LaRiviere. The arrest warrant was issued after LaRiviere failed to meet the conditions of his release by missing curfew at his designated residence in Prince George, BC.PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. – The Prince George RCMP are looking for a man wanted on a Canada Wide Warrant that could be headed to Northern B.C. or Northern Alberta.On Saturday, February 2, 2019, a Canada Wide Warrant for Being Unlawfully at Large was issued for 31-year-old Tal Kalum LaRiviere. The arrest warrant was issued after LaRiviere failed to meet the conditions of his release by missing curfew at his designated residence in Prince George, BC.Police are now asking for the public’s help in locating him. He is described as:Metis male188 cm (6’2”)88 kg (194 lbs)Brown hairBrown eyesLaRiviere has connections in Vernon, BC and Grimshaw, Alberta and may be travelling in Northern Alberta or Northern BC. He is believed to be driving a blue 1994 GMC 1500 pick-up bearing BC licence plate MY9880. A photo of a similar vehicle is attached. The image is not of the actual pick-up.A picture of a similar truck that he is believed to be driving.If you see this vehicle or LaRiviere contact the RCMP immediately, do not confront him as he is considered violent.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court will hear on Monday a fresh plea seeking a direction to authorities not to evict any forest dweller and to set up an SIT to look into alleged illegal acquisition of tribals’ land. A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna had on March 5 taken cognisance of the plea, filed by Chhattisgarh-based Tarika Tarangini Larka, seeking a direction to the Centre not to allot possession of any forest land belonging to tribals to anyone other than ‘adivasi’ residing in that particular area. The apex court, while dealing with other similar pending petition, had on February 28 stayed its February 13 order directing 21 states to evict 11.8 lakh illegal forest dwellers whose claims over the forest land have been rejected by authorities. In the fresh petition, filed through lawyer M L Sharma, Larka has alleged that authorities in Tamnar of Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh have forcibly grabbed a large area of tribal land and handed it to outsiders and now are trying to oust ‘adivasi’ from the area. “For this, they adopted simple strategy declaring forest dweller as non-adivasi to grab their land in the forest and village by rejecting their claim upon land,” the plea has said. It has sought restoration of land acquired by the government from tribals in Chhattisgarh for mining and other purposes and to provide them value of mined minerals. The petition has also sought setting up of a special investigation team (SIT) comprising retired judges of the apex court to look into the alleged illegal acquisition of land belonging to tribals throughout the country. Besides, it has sought a direction to the CBI to register an FIR under the provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Act to investigate the matters brought to light by the SIT and to file their report before the apex court.
When do we get to stop jabbering about the Patriots? Last winter, the New England Patriots marched through the playoffs and won the Super Bowl. Then we spent all spring and summer worrying about whether their quarterback, Tom Brady, had knowingly deflated footballs — and then we had to start the conversation over again when his four-game suspension was overturned. And now that football is actually being played, the Pats are still on everyone’s minds: At 3-0, with the NFL’s second-best SRS rating,1SRS is the Simple Rating System, Pro-Football-Reference.com’s way of adjusting a team’s average scoring margin for the strength of its schedule. (The upstart Falcons are No. 1.) they’ve started so hot as to inspire speculation about another 16-0 season.But the Patriots media frenzy may have finally swallowed itself when Skip Bayless was asked on Tuesday’s “First Take” about New England’s chances of going undefeated and said it was “extremely probable” that the Patriots would go 16-0.We touched on this during a segment of our sports podcast, Hot Takedown (Pats chatter begins at the 7:00 mark), but the notion that it’s “extremely probable” for any team to go 16-0 after three weeks of the season was too absurd for us to confine our dissent to a podcast.Let’s get this out of the way: It’s extremely improbable that New England will win each of its remaining 13 games. According to our Elo ratings (a system for estimating each NFL team’s strength at any given moment), New England has only a 4.4 percent probability of navigating the rest of its schedule without a loss. In other words, if you played out 100 versions of the 2015 season, the Pats would fail to go undefeated in about 96 of them. Bayless is holding out for our real-life timeline to be one of the four leftovers.It’s easy to see why the Patriots are so unlikely to win out. They aren’t even favorites in all of their remaining contests — Elo says there’s a 53 percent chance they lose to Denver on the road in late November. And among the games in which they are favored, they’re far from guaranteed victors. Nine teams have a greater than 20 percent chance of knocking them off — there’s a 42 percent chance they don’t even emerge from their bye week and make it to 4-0 against the Cowboys on Oct. 11. (Granted, Elo is unaware that Dallas will be without QB Tony Romo for that game, but a Romo adjustment would still leave New England with roughly a one-third chance of being upset.)This year’s Patriots team is really good. Through three weeks, the 2015 edition has a slightly better Elo rating (1698) than the 2007 version that went 16-0 had (1697) at the same point in the season.2If this sounds contrary to what I said at the 9:05 mark of this week’s Hot Takedown, it’s because I goofed. There I was referring to the fact that, in the subset of our Elo simulations where New England went 16-0 this season, its final Elo rating of 1820 was slightly lower than the 1832 mark the Pats had after the 2007 regular season. But that’s all down the road — as of now, three weeks in, the 2015 Patriots’ Elo is slightly higher. But the 2007 Patriots were arguably the best team in pro football history (to the extent such a thing exists), and they still required a great deal of luck in close wins in the second half of their schedule.It’s very hard to go undefeated, which is a big part of why streaks capture our imagination. If it were as easy as Bayless seems to think it is, we wouldn’t care as much. Read more: The Best NFL Teams Of All Time, According To Elo
2Tom Brady20113471.694010.271510 5Phil Simms19842966.059410.270477 CLE1.91.4NYJ22.48.09.41378 NYJ61NYJ61MIA 20, NYJ 12-1.2– HOU7.63.6NYG126.96.36.199386 Team ACurrentAvg. Chg*Team BCurrentAvg. Chg*Total ChangeGame Quality The best two-game QB starts to a season since 1970Most yards above backup quarterback (YABQ) for passers in the first two games of an NFL season, 1970-2018 KC85.05.1SF188.8.131.5242 DAL41.912.3SEA25.810.222.51523 LAR74LAR82LAR 34, ARI 0+1.9– PICKWIN PROB.PICKWIN PROB.ResultREADERS’ NET PTS MIN60MIN56GB 29, MIN 29+0.0 QuarterbackYEARAgeComp%Pass YDSNet Y/ATDIntYABQ IND17.44.7PHI75.05.810.41522 Age is as of Dec. 31 of the season in question.Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com GB30.411.5WSH20.78.620.21473 ARI8.44.5CHI23.810.014.51445 CIN50BAL55CIN 34, BAL 23-7.7– DEN63DEN63DEN 20, OAK 19-2.2– OUR PREDICTION (ELO)READERS’ PREDICTION And unlike the names above him on the list, each of whom were seasoned veterans, Mahomes is just 23 this season1And his first two games came before he actually turned 23 on Sept. 17. — and he had just one game started under his belt before this season. Although he probably won’t stay on this record-breaking pace all season, Mahomes’s early career performance doesn’t look like a fluke. Since 1970, only two QBs (Hall of Famer Kurt Warner and Pro Bowler Jeff Blake) had more YABQ through their first three NFL games as a primary passer2Meaning he led the team in dropbacks — i.e., pass attempts plus sacks — in a game. than Mahomes. Of course, not every hot three-game start presaged a path to Canton; for every Warner or Dan Marino near the top of the list, there’s also Eric Hipple, Scott Mitchell and Ty Detmer. But even if Mahomes’s career develops more like that of, say, Daunte Culpepper — whose stats at the same age are strikingly similar to Mahomes’s 16-game pace over his career to date — it would surely validate the Chiefs’ decision to jettison successful longtime starter Alex Smith in favor of his rifle-armed young successor.We can already see how the Chiefs’ offense has changed with Mahomes at the helm. According to ESPN’s Stats & Info Group, his air yards per pass — which measures the distance the ball traveled downfield before being caught (or hitting the ground) — is 11.5 this season, which ranks first among all qualified passers. Smith’s number last season was 7.4, which ranked 23rd. Mahomes has faced more blitzes (and more pressure in general) than Smith, but he’s handled the heat much more capably — his Raw Total Quarterback Rating against pressure has been 74.0 (the league average is about 50 on all passes and 20 versus pressure), compared with Smith’s 31.3 mark last year. And for a team that went an entire season without a TD pass to a wide receiver a few years ago, Kansas City now ranks third in touchdown passes to receivers and eighth in passing yards to wideouts, with Tyreek Hill on track to surpass his 1,183 receiving yards from a year ago.Kansas City is hoping this newfound offensive attack can prevent another midseason letdown like the one the team suffered last year. The 2017 Chiefs also got off to a blazing start, winning their first five games behind a dominating offense. Then they promptly lost six of seven at midseason to bring their record to 6-6, requiring a four-game end-of-season winning streak just to make the playoffs. That wasn’t exactly rare for K.C. under Andy Reid: The Chiefs finished the 2014 season on a 2-4 stretch after starting 7-3, and they went 2-5 down the stretch in 2013 after a 9-0 start. So Chiefs fans would be forgiven for tempering their optimism at the moment. But the versatility of this year’s attack — made possible in part by Mahomes’s unique arm strength and comfort level in a spread system — might be the missing ingredient that makes this hot start more sustainable than the ones that fizzled in years past.In light of all this Mahomes mania, the 49ers are an especially interesting foil for the Chiefs this weekend. Niners starter Jimmy Garoppolo captured the NFL’s attention late last season with a five-game run that rivaled what Mahomes has done thus far. (Jimmy G. averaged 131.4 YABQ per game in his best two starts of that stretch, compared with Mahomes’s 243.9 per game this season.) But Garoppolo’s 2018 also illustrates the reversion that is sure to come for Mahomes sooner or later: San Francisco’s highly paid QB has seen his QBR drop from 82.7 in 2017 to 22.7 this season. He’ll almost certainly improve on that in the near future — perhaps substantially so against a K.C. defense that currently ranks a distant last in the NFL in defensive expected points added. But Mahomes can learn from his counterpart how quickly a QB can go from acclaim to adversity once opposing defenses study enough of his tape.Until then, though, Mahomes and the Chiefs are riding high, with the league’s best projected record and playoff chances according to our model, plus a status as co-Super Bowl favorites (with the Eagles). It’s hard to imagine a better way for a young QB to begin his career as an NFL starter.FiveThirtyEight vs. the readersIn addition to our NFL Elo prediction interactive, which updates after every game to help you keep tabs on how your team stacks up, we’re also running a prediction game in which you make picks against our model (and your fellow readers). After the dust settles each week, we like to look at where Elo made its best — and worst — picks against the field. Here’s how it did in Week 2: The Chiefs have certainly seen a boost in our ratings with this hot start. Before the season, they ranked seventh in the league, and it wasn’t clear that K.C. was even the best team in its own division. But since the start of the season, Kansas City has risen to third in Elo, adding the third-most rating points of any team in the league (behind only the Buccaneers and Bengals).Mahomes has been leading the Chiefs’ charge. Going into the season, we noted that he would have a ton of weapons to work with in the Chief offense, and that his starting career could get off the ground quickly if he reined in his occasional “gunslinger” tendencies. Two weeks in, it’s worked out almost perfectly. Mahomes is making great decisions with the ball and has thrown plenty of absolute darts downfield. Since the 1970 AFL merger, only three QBs — Peyton Manning in 2013, Tom Brady in 2011 and, yes, Ryan Fitzpatrick this season — have produced more yards above backup QB (YABQ) through the first two games of a season than Mahomes has so far this year: BUF11.54.5MIN73.77.311.91525 3Peyton Manning20133767.17698.590501 Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs are officially the toast of the 2018 NFL season so far, after K.C.’s young quarterback threw an incredible six touchdown passes against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, bringing his season tally to 10 — and the Chiefs’ record to 2-0.It’s only been two weeks, but the reviews for Mahomes have been nothing short of breathless. The latest opponent that will have to weather the Kansas City onslaught will be the San Francisco 49ers, who travel to Arrowhead on Sunday afternoon. Although the game doesn’t figure to alter the playoff odds too much — according to our NFL Elo predictions — it’s an intriguing showdown that ranks fourth-best of Week 3 in terms of our measure of matchup quality (which uses the harmonic mean of the two teams’ Elo ratings): 10Dan Fouts19813074.064612.541414 DAL76DAL58DAL 20, NYG 13-15.1– PIT58PIT51KC 42, PIT 37+4.9– ATL62ATL58ATL 31, CAR 24-5.2– LAC47.010.6LAR184.108.40.206561 9Steve Young19983760.36667.961415 PHI63PHI67TB 27, PHI 21-7.6– MIA48.411.3OAK8.05.216.51463 JAX75.311.6TEN30.512.323.91529 CAR42.610.9CIN56.610.721.61538 1Ryan Fitzpatrick20183678.7%81912.981585 SF58SF62SF 30, DET 27+1.2– DET12.35.7NE72.09.415.01539 BUF53%LAC69%LAC 31, BUF 20+15.7– 8Lynn Dickey19833480.462310.681423 4Patrick Mahomes20182369.158210.1100488 WSH75WSH68IND 21, WSH 9+8.4– The best matchups of Week 3Week 3 games with the highest average Elo rating, using the harmonic mean, plus the total potential swing for the two teams’ playoff chances, according to FiveThirtyEight’s NFL predictions 6Joe Namath19722947.660913.472466 ATL62.6%+/-13.8NO29.8%+/-12.526.31578 Playoff %Playoff % NE56NE58JAX 31, NE 20-5.1– 7Drew Bledsoe19972564.16079.280428 NO85NO81NO 21, CLE 18-4.0– PIT39.911.7TB52.011.823.51548 BAL44.111.7DEN32.410.722.41503 Home teams are in bold.The scoring system is nonlinear, so readers’ average points don’t necessarily match the number of points that would be given to the average reader prediction. SEA54CHI52CHI 24, SEA 17+3.9– Game quality is the harmonic mean of the Elo ratings for the two teams in a given matchup.*Average change is weighted by the likelihood of a win or loss. (Ties are excluded.)Source: ESPN.com TEN70HOU51TEN 20, HOU 17-20.1– Elo’s dumbest (and smartest) picks of Week 2Average difference between points won by readers and by Elo in Week 2 matchups in FiveThirtyEight’s NFL prediction game After a successful Week 1 performance against FiveThirtyEight readers, I expected Elo to tail off a bit in Week 2. But instead, it did even better! On average, Elo beat the typical reader by 32.2 total points in our game this past week, bringing its overall lead up to 60.5 points on the season. The readers cleaned up in the Bills-Chargers game, taking advantage of Elo’s reluctance to acknowledge that Buffalo is a pit of despair this season. But that was offset by Elo’s confidence in the Cowboys at home against the Giants, and the fact that its seemingly misguided faith in the Titans — who were starting Blaine Gabbert, one of the worst QBs in NFL history, instead of the injured Marcus Mariota — paid off.We’ll see if Elo’s run of luck continues next week. Either way, congrats to reader Alexandre Augusto da Rocha, who led all (identified) users in points for Week 2 — and as a result leads for the season as well. And thanks to everyone who played last week. If you didn’t play, remember that it’s not too late to get in on the game, even if you missed the first couple weeks of the season. Make your picks now!Check out our latest NFL predictions.
SF0.20.1NYG0.10.10.21377 BAL54PIT52PIT 23, BAL 16+4.3– Elo’s dumbest (and smartest) picks of Week 9Average difference between points won by readers and by Elo in Week 9 matchups in FiveThirtyEight’s NFL prediction game 201311531125 WSH43.014.5TB220.127.116.11470 MIN68MIN69MIN 24, DET 9-0.9– 21976ColtsJones22Mitchell23Carr1820.8 The best matchups of Week 10Week 10 games by the highest average Elo rating (using the harmonic mean) plus the total potential swing for the two teams’ playoff chances, according to FiveThirtyEight’s NFL predictions 82000VikingsCulpepper21Smith18Moss1718.5 PICKWIN PROB.PICKWIN PROB.ResultREADERS’ NET PTS YearTeamPasserRusherReceiverTriplet Score 191995CowboysAikman15Smith20Irvin1917.7 DEN54HOU54HOU 19, DEN 17+6.0– 91982ChargersFouts22Muncie14Chandler2218.5 51961OilersBlanda22Cannon16Hennigan2119.3 KC84KC87KC 37, CLE 21-0.5– CHI54.715.4DET8.97.723.11507 14199349ersYoung23Watters14Rice2018.2 Game quality is the harmonic mean of the Elo ratings for the two teams in a given matchup.*Average change is weighted by the likelihood of a win or loss. (Ties are excluded.)Source: ESPN.com 31999ColtsManning18James21Harrison2019.6 122000RamsWarner15Faulk22Holt1918.2 152006ChargersRivers18Tomlinson26Gates1418.1 DAL66DAL64TEN 28, DAL 14+0.7– 162014PackersRodgers21Lacy16Nelson1818.1 20200049ersGarcia20Garner17Owens1617.5 The New Orleans Saints already looked like Super Bowl contenders at various times in the first half of this season. But after their 45-35 victory over the previously undefeated Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, the Saints have landed themselves squarely in the conversation of potential championship favorites. Certainly, no team is hotter as we survey the NFL at midseason: New Orleans has won seven straight, including triumphs over the Vikings, Falcons and Ravens. And for better or for worse, they’re doing it in classic Saints style — piling up a ton of points (and taking the occasional end-zone phone call) while simply hoping for the best on defense. Although this method might not ultimately result in the franchise’s second-ever Super Bowl title, it’s going to be damn entertaining to watch New Orleans try to score its way to the top of the NFL heap once again.Leading the way in the Saints’ offensive showcase is, of course, quarterback Drew Brees. Much has been said about how well Patriots QB Tom Brady has continued to play into his 40s, but Brees is only 17 months younger than Brady and has been just as good as ol’ Touchdown Tom was at the same age. Brees currently leads the NFL in passer rating and ranks fourth in Yards Above Backup QB (trailing only Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, the Rams’ Jared Goff and Philip Rivers of the Chargers). All this without the benefit of drinking up to 38 glasses of water a day and sleeping in his own brand of recovery pajamas.Some of the pinpoint throws Brees made Sunday against L.A. demonstrated once again how little touch he has lost — if any — since ESPN’s “Sport Science” scrutinized the mechanical perfection behind his superhuman passing accuracy nearly 10 years ago. Led by that star-powered triumvirate, the Saints’ offense currently ranks seventh in the league in yards per game, second in points per game and second in offensive expected points added (EPA) per contest. (And it’s anybody’s guess how much higher it will soar with new WR pickup Dez Bryant on board.) But the Saints’ undoing might be their backslide on defense, where they’ve fallen from a surprising 16th in defensive EPA last season to 29th this year. In that regard, the 2018 Saints are like too many versions that had come before last season — great on offense but prone to making opposing offenses look great, too. MIA21.210.3GB18.104.22.168457 For Brees’s excellence this season, my ESPN colleague Bill Barnwell made the case that New Orleans’s QB — not Kansas City’s — should be the MVP front-runner at the midpoint of the schedule. But Brees isn’t doing it all alone. In fact, the Saints’ resurgence in recent seasons has been as much about quickly re-assembling elite talent around Brees as it has been about Brees defying Father Time.New Orleans rolled out one of the league’s all-time great rookie classes last year, headlined by running back Alvin Kamara. Sharing touches with veteran ball carrier Mark Ingram in a historic RB tandem, Kamara was tabbed for the Pro Bowl while racking up 1,554 yards from scrimmage and 13 total touchdowns. And with Ingram suspended for the Saints’ first four games this season, Kamara has been even better in an expanded role. His touches per game are up 61 percent, and he’s on track to generate more than 1,800 scrimmage yards with 24 total TDs. Not bad for a player in his first real season as an NFL feature back.1Upon returning, Ingram initially ate a bit into Kamara’s workload, but over the past three weeks, Kamara is averaging 20.7 touches per game. That’s actually higher than his seasonlong average (which includes a 31-touch outing against the Falcons in Week 3).Kamara has provided the kind of monster performance New Orleans needed to build on last season’s explosive offensive output. But Brees also has a mega-productive target at wide receiver who keeps getting better every year: Michael Thomas. Thomas cracked 1,100 yards through the air in each of his first two NFL seasons, scoring 14 total touchdowns — and this year he has reached an entirely new level of statistical achievement. Averaging an astounding 110.0 receiving yards per game, Thomas would rank 15th all-time in the category if he somehow kept it up over the season’s second half.(We should also mention that Thomas’s outrageous catch rate of 88.6 percent is currently the best ever in a season2Since 1992, the first year for the statistic in Pro-Football-Reference.com’s data. among players with at least 750 receiving yards, more than 11 percentage points higher than the next-best season. It’s a friendly reminder that Thomas is having one of the most impressive WR seasons ever.)If we crunch the numbers for the Saints’ Big Three in terms of Approximate Value (Pro-Football-Reference.com’s cross-position measure of single-season player value), we find that Brees is on pace for 20 AV, with Thomas also at 20 and Kamara at 18. Together, the harmonic mean3A special kind of average designed to amplify combinations in which all individual values are high — and penalize ones in which they aren’t. of those AV numbers — a metric I’ll call the “Triplet Score” — is 19.3, which would rank New Orleans’s group fourth-best among QB/RB/WR trios since 1960: SeasonWinsLossesOffenseDefensespecial Teams SF62SF55SF 34, OAK 3-7.3– WSH55WSH52ATL 38, WSH 14+1.5– 172000ColtsManning18James21Harrison1618.1 NYJ1.00.6BUF0.20.20.91388 Even though New Orleans has that shiny 7-1 record, its defensive deficiency is probably something coordinator Dennis Allen will have to iron out if the Saints are truly going to vie for the Super Bowl. Although several other contenders — most notably Kansas City — are in a similar all-offense/no-defense spot at midseason, it’s rare to see such a poor defensive squad hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Since 2006, only one champion (the 2006 Indianapolis Colts) ranked 29th or worse in defensive EPA per game.4The 2011 New York Giants were close: They ranked 24th in defensive EPA. Aside from those two, no other champ since 2006 ranked worse than 13th on defense. But with an average of 62.1 total points being scored in their games thus far, the Saints have certainly been involved in their share of popcorn-worthy shootouts.They’ll take that brand of high-scoring football to Cincinnati on Sunday to face the Bengals. And although the Saints have all but locked up their postseason fortunes, this still counts as one of the best games of the week by our combination of matchup quality (i.e., the harmonic mean of the teams’ Elo ratings in each game) and game importance (how likely it is to swing either team’s odds of making the playoffs). That’s mainly because the Bengals, sitting on the precipice of the postseason picture with a 54 percent chance of getting in, have more than a dozen points of probability to lose or gain, depending on the game’s outcome. 18199249ersYoung22Watters16Rice1718.0 OUR PREDICTION (ELO)READERS’ PREDICTION PIT81.2%+/-10.5CAR75.2%+/-10.120.51618 CAR76CAR73CAR 42, TB 28-3.4– 20167953022 Team ACurrentAvg. Chg*Team BCurrentAvg. Chg*Total ChangeGame Quality KC99.80.2ARI0.20.10.41520 PHI60.013.3DAL10.59.322.61548 MIA62MIA59MIA 13, NYJ 6-4.2– NO59LAR52NO 45, LAR 35-12.4– Home teams are in bold.The scoring system is nonlinear, so readers’ average points don’t necessarily match the number of points that would be given to the average reader prediction. JAX9.16.6IND10.56.212.81456 201711521615 Playoff %Playoff % Saints’ NFL Rank in … 42018SaintsBrees20Kamara18Thomas2019.3 ATL43.78.9CLE0.10.19.01434 LAC86.86.9OAK0.00.07.01454 2018712293 The Saints’ defense is reverting to (poor) formYearly record and NFL rank in expected points added (EPA) for the New Orleans Saints since 2013 131964BrownsRyan17Brown23Warfield1618.2 As for the Saints, we’ll keep a close eye on how far their high-octane offensive attack can take them in the season’s second half. Our model gives them a 16 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl, which is tied with New England for second-best in the NFL (behind K.C. at 18 percent). And with Brees, Kamara and Thomas lighting up opposing defenses, New Orleans might lead the league in excitement either way, win or lose.FiveThirtyEight vs. the readersBe sure to check out FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratings using our NFL prediction interactive, which simulates the rest of the season 100,000 times and tracks how often each team should make the playoffs and win the Super Bowl. And did you know you can also pick against the Elo algorithm in our prediction game? Maybe you can also climb up our giant leaderboard (or, if you’re like me, fall down it with each passing week).Here are the games in which Elo made its best — and worst — predictions against the reader picks last week: 20147953223 The Saints’ 2018 trio is on a historic paceTop QB/RB/WR trios ranked by their “Triplet Score” — the harmonic mean of each player’s Approximate Value (AV) — 1960-2018 20157923223 CHI54%CHI69%CHI 41, BUF 9+9.7– SEA61SEA51LAC 25, SEA 17+9.0– 101999RamsWarner19Faulk25Bruce1418.3 1199449ersYoung23Watters19Rice2120.9 2018 AV is pro-rated to a 16-game schedule.Source: pro-Football-reference.com Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group SEA33.713.4LAR22.214.171.124592 111992CowboysAikman17Smith20Irvin1818.3 72004ColtsManning21James21Wayne1518.5 62001RamsWarner20Faulk22Holt1619.0 CIN54.013.0NO94.14.017.01583 NE81NE71NE 31, GB 17-7.6– TEN40.513.7NE97.82.015.71590 Team Leaders and their Approx. value Readers kept it relatively close against Elo this week, losing by an average of just 5.1 points across all of Week 9’s games — their second-best showing of the season, behind Week 7. Of course, that tells you what kind of year it’s been picking against the algorithm: Elo has beaten the average reader in eight of nine weeks in 2018 so far. This time around, the readers’ bet against Nathan Peterman paid off (big surprise…) and they also picked up points with the Chargers’ victory at Elo’s longtime team-crush, the Seattle Seahawks. But the Saints’ win over the Rams hurt readers’ average score — perhaps they didn’t read that L.A. is good but not necessarily historically great.Anyway, congrats to the mysteriously named _ACN_, who led identified users in Week 9 with 204.0 points, and to Brian Hake, who pulled into the No. 1 slot for the entire season with 764.5 points. Thanks to everyone who has been playing — and if you haven’t, be sure to get in on the action! You can make picks now and still try your luck against Elo, even if you haven’t played yet.Check out our latest NFL predictions.
Max Allegri has revealed Juventus have not yet hit top form despite maintaining a 100% record to the start of the season.The Bianconeri brushed Young Boys aside 3-0 thanks to a hat-trick from Paulo Dybala.“We started well and took the early lead, only really feeling the danger once, and Wojciech Szczesny did well to push the forward wide when we were temporarily down to 10,” the Coach told JTV and Football Italia.“We had plenty of chances and should’ve scored more goals with greater sharpness when going on the counter.”The undoubted star of the show was Dybala with a hat-trick, becoming only the fourth Juventus player to achieve this feat in the Champions League.Juventus confirm Mario Mandzukic could leave this month Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Sporting director Fabio Paratici confirmed reports that Mario Mandzukic could leave Juventus for a move to an unnamed Qatari team.“I am happy for him, he is improving and playing with greater consistency, but everyone played well this evening and showed maturity against an organised Young Boys side.They are a physical team and tried to block us off in any way possible, so it was tough.“I always said that Dybala’s greatest quality is his ability to make the team play and then go to finish off the move at the end. Tonight he did that brilliantly.”