Lizzie, 10, and dad Craig are PING Family champions

first_img Tags: Family, Fourball Betterball, PING Golf mad 10-year-old Lizzie Wilson and her dad, Craig, are the new PING Family Fourball Betterball champions.The Nottinghamshire pair teamed up to score 45 points over the Thonock Park course at PING’s Gainsborough Golf Club and took the title by the slender margin of one point.“I played best!” laughed Lizzie, who has cut her handicap by 11 shots this season and now plays off 24. “I’ve had great fun playing with my dad and our playing partners were very nice. I’ve made some new friends and it’s been a great experience.”Craig added: “It’s been a fantastic day.” They took on the challenge of related pairs from across the country, who flock to play in this popular competition run by England Golf.Last year Craig and his wife, Claire, took part for the first time and this year they decided to include Lizzie, who has been playing since she was eight.“My wife and I played last year and it was a fantastically organised day. This year we thought that Lizzie could play and I got lucky she was paired with me! It’s been a great day,” said Craig, a 13-handicapper.Claire, who plays off 12, played in the competition with her dad, Michael Marriott, and has already staked a claim to be Lizzie’s partner in 2019!The whole family are members at Norwood Park Golf Centre, where Lizzie has been encouraged by the junior development programme.She’s also been inspired by attending the Women’s British Open; and enthused by receiving a bag of junior clubs through the Bags4Birdies initiative run by PING and UPS. Every birdie scored in Majors in one year by Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen saw a bag of clubs given to a new young player.“That was very exciting for her and now Lizzie is doing better than the rest of the family!” said Craig. She’s won a county U18 handicap competition and she’s had an outing with the Nottinghamshire second team – and her next big date is on Tuesday when she tees up in the PING women’s fourball betterball Grand Final with Madeleine Smith, who was co-runner-up today.Lizzie sums up why she enjoys golf: “I love how you get to make new friends. But basically I just love playing the shots. I just love it!”And it won’t be long before the Wilsons are joined by their other daughter. Holly, seven, has also taken up golf and was thrilled when the family spectated at the Women’s British Open and she got Georgia Hall’s signed ball after the third round. “Since then she just wants to play golf,” said Craig. “I think I’m going to be a caddie or a taxi service!”The runners-up were Madeleine and Ian Smith, also from Norwood Park, Nottinghamshire, who scored 44 points, pipping Linda and Peter Spencer of Worksop, Nottinghamshire, on countback. Third place, again on countback, went to Alison and Robert Horak of Ullesthorpe Court, Leicestershire, on 43 points, ahead of Jane and Steve Ackling of Wollaton Park, Nottinghamshire. Debra and Glenn Wright of Millfield, Lincolnshire, took sixth prize on 42 points, on countback from two other pairs.Click here for full scoresImage copyright Leaderboard Photography 2 Sep 2018 Lizzie, 10, and dad Craig are PING Family champions last_img read more

McDonald overcomes shaky 1st, Pirates beat Red Sox 4-3

first_imgROUGH START—James McDonald throws during the first inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Boston Red Sox, March 18, in Bradenton, Fla. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) BRADENTON, Fla. (AP)—James McDonald was not rattled by his rough start.McDonald labored in the first inning, then recovered as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Boston Red Sox 4-3 Monday.“I got locked back in, kept my composure and finished strong,” McDonald said. “I didn’t let the game get away from me. I felt confident—every pitch, every moment out there.”Ryan Lavarnway hit a two-run single in the first. McDonald then retired 11 of 14 batters. He gave up four hits and three walks in five innings and struck out six.This was the second game in a row that McDonald overcame a rocky first inning.“It’s definitely correctable,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s got some weapons. With James, it’s about rhythm, pace and timing. That improved as the game went on. We’ve got to keep him working and take the cerebral part out of it.”McDonald has a 4.19 ERA in five games with 4 strikeouts in 19 1-3 innings.Neil Walker homered to end Clay Buchholz’s 9 1-3 inning scoreless streak and Gaby Sanchez hit a two-run drive.Walker’s leadoff homer in the second was the only hit off Buchholz, who struck out four and walked two in five innings.Sanchez homered in the seventh against Chris Carpenter, and Michael McKenry hit a solo drive off Oscar Villarreal in the eighth.NOTES: Red Sox DH David Ortiz’s scheduled batting practice was canceled due to continued pain in both heels. “He’s not ready for that next phase,” Farrell said…The start of the game was delayed by 48 minutes, but it didn’t start raining until after the tarp was removed and play got under way…The Pirates reassigned RHPs Gerrit Cole, Brooks Brown, Kyle Waldrop, LHP Kris Johnson and C Ali Solis to their minor league camp. RHP Phil Irwin was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Cole, the first overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft, is the team’s top prospect.…Closer Jason Grilli pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning in his first appearance for the Pirates since pitching for Italy in the World Baseball Classic.last_img read more

Canucks Overcome Avalanche in Snowy Denver, Win 3-2 in Shootout

first_img Colorado has a number of good young forwards.  Rookie Gabriel Landeskog was noticeable today.Broadcast Observation of the Day:  I think I have finally found a rink that apparently plays worse music than Rogers Arena.  I heard that horribly annoying LMFAO song, as well as Maroon 5’s equally brutal “Moves Like Jagger”.  Wow.  This coming from a rink that, along with Dallas, used to play some of the best music in the league (admittedly based on limited sample size).I thought Garrett offered some great insight when he was talking about how some of the league’s best face-off men will intentionally lose a meaningless neutral-zone faceoff early in a game in order to learn what the other guy does, as well as to give him a false sense of security. While this tactic makes a lot of sense, I would never have thought about that.  It’s these kinds of tidbits that can really add quality to a broadcast.Looking ahead: The Canucks continue their road trip on Tuesday in Music City, as they visit the Nashville Predators. I touched on this above, but the power play has been very poor for over 20 games now.  Going back to the game in Columbus on December 13, the power play is only 11 for 70 (15.7%).  If you take out the Boston game in which they went 4 for 11, they have only scored on 7 of their last 59 opportunities (11.9%).  That is positively brutal.  Unbelievably, they still lead the league, however their percentage has come off at least 4 points and is now only 22.3% (Nashville is second at 22.2% – so the gap has narrowed significantly). Byron Bitz made his Canucks debut tonight and was pretty good overall.  Skating on a line with Cody Hodgson and Jannik Hansen, he was able to use his size effectively in the offensive zone, and got into an entertaining bout with Avalanche tough guy Cody McLeod.  Vigneault should be pleased with what he saw. Bieksa’s final shift where he prevented a goal at one end and scored at the other, tying the game, was unbelievable.  The goal bore an uncanny resemblance to his series-winning goal against San Jose in last season’s playoffs.  He was able to atone for his mistake that led to Colorado’s second goal, which occurred on a shift where prior to the puck drop, he was preoccupied by attempting to get Galiardi to fight him (Galiardi has elbowed him in the first period). Leigh Ramsden lives in Vancouver and is an avid Canucks fan, having been a partial season ticket holder for over 10 years. He’s old enough to have witnessed all three Stanley Cup losses, as such, his prime goal is to remove those scars by seeing a Cup brought to Vancouver. Leigh is Fighting For Stanley’s (www.fightingforstanley.ca/vancouver) west coast correspondent, and will also blog after all Canuck games for The Nelson Daily.The Vancouver Canucks visited the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday afternoon in the Mile High City, exiting with a 3-2 shootout victory.Coming off two substandard performances against Chicago and Detroit, the Canucks came out of the gate strong, taking the game to Colorado for most of the first eight minutes of the game.  Ryan Kesler opened the scoring at 3:31 of the first, wiring a slap shot past Avalanche netminder Jean-Sebastian Giguere. The first took a turn for the worse for the visitors after David Booth took a dubious goaltender interference penalty at 8:46 of the first, as David Jones converted a great pass from Paul Stastny on the ensuing power play to even the score.Shortly after that goal, Colorado went back on the power play, which shifted the momentum solidly in their favour.  While they didn’t score, the Avalanche rode that momentum for the rest of the period, eventually outshooting the Canucks 18-7.The second period was much better for Vancouver.  They were unfortunate to go down 2-1, after a Kevin Bieksa back pass came out awkwardly from the boards behind the net, and Daniel Winnik fed Jay McClement who fired the puck past Canuck goaltender Roberto Luongo.  The Canucks played decently through the rest of the middle frame, however, were unlucky to not have any of their chances go in the net.  Meanwhile, the Avalanche were able to generate a number of chances, there were very few Grade A chances.Consistent with recent history, the Canucks were able to mount more of an attack in the third period, drawing a couple of penalties along the way.  However, Giguere was up to the task, and turned the puck back on a number of occasions. The Canucks finally tied the game after a phenomenal shift for Bieksa. With Luongo on the bench for the extra attacker, Avalanche forward T.J. Galiardi flipped a puck from centre that was heading into the net – until Bieksa skated hard from the opposite side of the ice, dove, and kept the puck out.  He then cleared the zone and the puck went in deep.  The Avalanche got to it first, and rung the puck around the boards, where it took a strange bounce off the stanchion, into the slot, onto Bieksa’s stick, from where he got a wrist shot past Giguere with only 35 seconds left.The overtime was relatively uneventful, although, Colorado outshot Vancouver 5-1 in the extra frame.  The game went to the dreaded shootout, but Luongo was up to the task, saving all three Avalanche attempts.  Mason Raymond was the Canucks’ second shooter, and his goal through Giguere’s legs was enough to get the Canucks two points.Statistically, Colorado was the much better team today, in the end outshooting the Canucks 46-29 and outchancing the Canucks 27-18 (as detailed over at Canucks Army). I wasn’t able to watch the game live today, but I was able to listen to portions of it on the radio live – and based on what I heard, I was expected to be horrified when I watched the game tonight.  Shockingly, I wasn’t.  In my mind, today was merely “one of those days”, which I’ll expand on below.Also, again, it must be said that Luongo was extremely good today as he kept Vancouver in the game throughout regulation, and was able to stop all three Avalanche shooters in the shootout.  Without Luongo at the top of his game, the Canucks don’t likely end up leaving Denver with two points. DID THE CANUCKS “DESERVE” THIS WIN?While it’s the only statistic that decides winners and losers, generally I advocate for looking past only goals for and against in order to assess a team’s performance.  Shots on goal can often be a reasonable indicator of the general effectiveness of a team and run of the play, and it’s a relatively well-defined, objective measure. While more subjective, some statisticians (and many NHL teams) are using “scoring chances” as a more meaningful metric (typically the scoring chances must come from certain areas on the ice in order to be counted).As noted above, both measures were slanted heavily in favour of Colorado today.  That said, in watching the game, I really feel like most of their advantage was gained in one 12 minute stretch of the game – basically, the second half of the first period.  During this stretch, the Avalanche were playing well, getting power play opportunities, and giving the Canucks fits in their own end. However, the Canucks had a very good first eight minutes (two early odd-man rushes against notwithstanding), during which they were able to jump out to a lead on Kesler’s goal.  Overall, I felt it was a reasonably even period, even though Colorado significantly outshot the Canucks. Henrik and Daniel continue to struggle immensely.  Like the rest of the team, their stat line was worse than they played, but their lack of production recently is astounding, considering the rate at which they have scored over the past few years.  Hopefully they get their game figured out soon.  They weren’t even afforded first-unit power play time on the team’s final man advantage. Ryan Kesler’s second line continues to be the most dangerous.  Mason Raymond, given a shot on that line in Chris Higgins’ absence, isn’t making much of his opportunity, but his shootout goal was very good. Aaron Rome isn’t doing a lot for me right now.  I’d welcome giving Alberts another turn on the third pairing. The other stretch in the game where they took it to the Canucks statistically was the overtime period, when they outshot Vancouver 5-1.  However, again, this doesn’t tell the entire story. The Canucks controlled the play in the extra period for most of the first three minutes, while Colorado had better run of the play in the final couple of minutes.  That said, it was Vancouver who tallied the only two credited scoring chances in the overtime – so again, I feel it was a pretty even overtime session.The second and third periods were statistically even between the two teams.  However, again, I feel that the stats here are a bit misleading.  Vancouver had some very good stretches in those periods, and were unlucky not to score on a couple (or more) occasions.So what really happened today?  Were the Canucks deserving victors?My take is that while the Canucks were (again) far off their best game, they did enough to legitimately get the win.  For one, the ice was terrible (day game which was preceded by an NBA game the prior night) and this caused a number of strange bounces – Colorado’s second goal and Bieksa’s tying goal being prime examples.  Vancouver is a high-skill team, and today there were a number of instances where pucks just plain bounced over their sticks, or passes weren’t flat on the ice, shots were fanned on, etc.Secondly, while this really sounds like a cop-out, the Canucks were just plain unlucky.  They had a number of shots which were “almost” deflected in front of the net; or where the deflections put the puck straight into Giguere or inches past the post.  They were just a fraction off on a number of other shots or passes – it seemed like they missed the net, albeit only marginally, quite often.  Hodgson wired a slap shot off the post early in the third.Thirdly, the Canucks power play continues to struggle, going 0 for 5 on the day.  One goal would have changed the outcome of this game.  Typically the Canucks are good for one power play goal on approximately every four opportunities, if that had held true today, Bieksa’s heroics wouldn’t have been necessary.Lastly, and most importantly, the goaltending was stellar.  While I question the overall quality of many of Colorado’s shots and scoring chances, Luongo did make a number of very tough saves over course of the contest.  As much as it displeases many in Canucks Nation, Luongo is a part of the team, and therefore, his contributions can’t be ignored in assessing the quality of the win.  He also made three very good saves in the shootout, enabling the Canucks to seize the extra point.The bottom line is that good teams will find ways to get points and wins.  Vancouver is playing some of its worst hockey of the season, however, they are finding ways to get things done. There are worries and warning signs, and by no means should their recent play not be cause for concern.  That said – today, at least – they were deserving of the points they got.  They just were not as bad as the stats would have you believe. OTHER TOP NHL TEAMS STRUGGLING AS WELLIt’s funny, the Canucks are playing poorly at the moment, and yet they are climbing up the standings.  Detroit, Nashville, and Pittsburgh are all playing well and are rolling along. On the flip side, in their last 10 games, Boston is 4-5-1, Philadelphia is 5-3-2, San Jose is 5-4-1, and Chicago is 4-4-2.What this all means is that after the close of play tonight, Vancouver is tied for second in the NHL in points, at 69 (although the team they are tied with, New York, has three games in hand). More importantly, in looking at the most telling number, Vancouver is now in a three-way tie for third in regulation losses with Philadelphia and San Jose (only New York and St. Louis having fewer).  This is an area where the Canucks have been chasing the top teams all season long, and only recently have they caught the top level teams here.This is exactly why these most recent games are very important for the Canucks.  They have found ways to avoid regulation losses this week, even though they definitely deserved them in the Chicago and Detroit games.  As a result, they are increasing their position in the standings even while not playing their best. That, if nothing else, is an impressive feat, and makes me look forward to when the team starts firing on all cylinders again.  Perhaps more importantly, it also keeps the team’s recent woes in perspective. PARTING SHOTSQuick comments:  Vancouver is now 13-0-2 against the Avalanche in their last 15 games against this former arch-nemesis.last_img read more

“The Twins” empowering young women

first_imgPopularly known as “The Twins”, Play Your Part ambassadors Hlelo and Ntando Masina have been doing impressive work to empower young women in South Africa.Hlelo and Ntando Masina are helping young women in high school become active citizens in their communities. (Image: Ntando Masina Instagram page)Hlelo and Ntando Masina’s co-founded the nationwide Campaign for Girls together with their partner Bianca Williams in August 2010. It has become one of South Africa’s biggest online youth information centres.Hlelo and Ntando have taken pride in the way that this initiative has empowered a myriad of young women in various stages of high school and inspired them to become active members of society.You can follow @HleloMasina and @NtandoMasina on Twitter and Instagram to follow their endeavors.last_img read more

Eye on Assembly elections, BJP gets new heads for Maharashtra, Mumbai

first_imgThe Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made major changes to its organisational structure on Tuesday by appointing Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil as head of the State unit of the party.It also appointed Malabar Hill MLA and founder of the real estate Lodha Group, Mangal Prabhat Lodha, as the Mumbai unit chief in place of Ashish Shelar, who has been inducted into the government as a Cabinet Minister. Mr. Patil replaces Raosaheb Danve, who has been inducted into the Union Cabinet in the second term of the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre. Announcing the appointment of the two leaders, party national secretary Arun Singh said the changes have been approved by party president Amit Shah. “The appointments are from immediate effect,” Mr. Singh said on Tuesday. Senior leaders said as per party rules, one can not hold the same term for two years. It was with this in mind that Mr. Danve met the Prime Minster in New Delhi and requested for a change of guard earlier this month. Mr. Danve is believed to have told Mr. Modi it would be difficult for him to juggle the responsibilities of State chief along with that of the Union minister in the run-up to the elections in Maharashtra. “We have some very capable leaders in our party and they can perhaps come forward to take this responsibility,” he said. Mr. Danve was appointed State party chief in 2015 and has been instrumental in the BJP expanding its base across the rural hinterland. “The BJP has since captured 25,000 gram sabhas, 23 Members of Parliament (MPs) and 18 corporations across rural Maharashtra. We have only managed to do so under the able leadership and guidance of the PM and Mr. Shah,” he said. Mr. Patil has been Cabinet Minister since July 2016, handling the Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation and Public Works department (PWD). A prominent member of the BJP, he is also the Guardian Minister of Kolhapur and Pune districts. Speaking on his appointment Mr. Lodha said, “The party has entrusted me with a major responsibility and I plan to fulfil it diligently. I would do that keeping in mind Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slogan Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishwas.”last_img read more

‘Wide access to OTC drugs frees up govt. resources’

first_imgSelf-medication is not new to India. A 2015 survey conducted by Lybrate among 20,000 people across 10 cities showed that 52% of people practised self-medication. But the country lacks a well-defined regulation for over the counter (OTC) medicines, important for patient safety. The government is in the process of finalising an OTC drug policy, which may bring more clarity on the drugs that a wider population can access. The Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI), a body of multinational drug companies, has worked with the government over the past one year by providing inputs to the draft of the OTC policy.The Hindu spoke to OPPI president Annaswamy Vaidheesh about the need for such guidelines and the changes they will bring about in healthcare.What role did OPPI play in creating the OTC policy draft?We brought experts together to help develop the guidelines. We also invited companies like Cipla, Glenmark, Sun Pharma and others who are not members of OPPI, but their inputs were valuable. Additionally, we got international experts to bring in perspective. The government has hailed the inputs and is seriously considering taking them forward. We have looked at the best practices in various economies and highlighted what we can take from them, the kind of drugs that should be included in the OTC list and the ones that should not.How will an OTC policy help?First of all, when you widen access to OTC drugs, it automatically releases the government’s time and resources, which can be focussed on drugs that need to be stringently prescribed. We are saying that drugs that are known to have negligible side effects and don’t require much explanation can be classified as OTC so that access to them becomes easy and wide. These drugs can be made easily accessible in small towns as well. The idea is to make sure that the right product rests in the right place. Society has learnt that OTC medicines are those that don’t have major side effects but help improve health. Many countries have brought more products under the OTC category to focus on drugs that need to be strictly regulated.We also face the threat of antibiotics resistance. Will bringing more drugs under the OTC category lead to overuse or misuse? An antibiotic is a drug meant to treat a bacterial infection. But people who have viral infections, fever and so on are taking antibiotics, causing the resistance. However, when drugs for common viral infections, sore throat, acidity, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, injury, cuts, wounds, burns, acne etc are made available under OTC, people will get access to the right medication. Many people are using such drugs without prescription anyway. But an OTC policy will improve access to drugs that are okay to be sold as OTC and restrict access to other drugs. Besides antibiotic resistance, steroid use is also a big problem. There are people who use steroid creams for skin whitening. But we are working with the government to spread awareness about the responsible use of antibiotics and steroids.What stage is the policy in?The submission has gone; we have crossed three-fourths of the passage. The government may take six months or a year. It is in the process of finetuning it and converting it into a legislation.last_img read more

Recovering De Ocampo vows to be ready come Game 3

first_imgBut de Ocampo vowed to come out better for Game 3 on Sunday, where he expects his body to be at a better shape to help TNT once again gain advantage in the championship duel.“I’ll be ready for the next game,” he said.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next MOST READ Cayetano to unmask people behind ‘smear campaign’ vs him, SEA Games View comments Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. What ‘missteps’? Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ LATEST STORIES “We talked about it, that if he needs me, I can play,” he said.Considering that de Ocampo is still on the road to recovery following his week-long battle with flu, the 35-year-old tried to be the source of inspiration to the KaTropa as they lost hold of their early 17-point advantage and allowed San Miguel to zoom ahead in the second quarter.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutHowever, he could only do so much as TNT fell, 102-88, and  the Beermen equalized the best-of-seven series to one game apiece.“I tried but it’s obvious that I’m still not at 100-percent. We couldn’t win today,” he said, as he finished with three points in his eight minutes on the floor. World’s 50 Best Restaurants launches new drinking and dining guide 1 dead in Cavite blast, fire Santos happy to show what he can do from the bench WATCH: Firefighters rescue baby seal found in parking garage Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chicken Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Photo by Tristan Tamayo/ INQUIRER.netRanidel de Ocampo knew he had to make his presence felt.With TNT going scoreless for the first seven minutes of the second quarter, the veteran forward gave coach Nash Racela the look and got himself on the floor for the first time in the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals on Friday.ADVERTISEMENTlast_img read more

a month agoCoady furious after Wolves loss: We must be better!

first_imgAbout the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your say Coady furious after Wolves loss: We must be better!by Freddie Taylora month agoSend to a friendShare the loveConor Coady says Wolves must improve to get out of their current form slump.The Premier League club lost to Braga in the first Europa League clash of the campaign on Thursday, making it zero wins from their last three matches.Speaking after the game, Coady said: “It’s disappointing the run we’re on. We need to get out of it as quick as possible. It doesn’t matter what competition we play in we need to get out of it.”It’s everyone playing on the pitch. We all need to rectify it. We all need to come together. We should have scored to be honest.”We should have kept the clean sheet. We need to be better.” last_img read more

The NFC East Could Produce A 610 Playoff Team

AFC West12.90000 PROBABILITY OF WINNER HAVING THIS RECORD OR WORSE NFC North1520875346 AFC South9.1692010 NFC South14971336253 AFC West15321455352 NFC East7.99877292 AFC East153611663%61% ELO RATINGNON-DIVISION RECORD AFC East13.10000 NFC West12.70000 AFC South14141113537 What’s striking about the NFC East, though, is just how bunched together the teams are. Through 13 weeks of the season, the standard deviation of its teams’ Elo ratings is the fifth-lowest of any division since the NFL expanded to eight divisions in 2002. Translation: This year’s NFC East is unique in that every team is almost exactly the same amount of meh as the others. That parity in available talent is a major reason why every NFC East team is within a game of each other in terms of their records within the division.If the NFC East champion does end up assuming a place alongside the worst division winners of all time, it will be an undeniably great thing for the NFL’s schadenfreudist fan base. But it’s also worth noting the unusual confluence of intra-divisional parity and plain bad luck outside the division that will have helped the NFC East make history.Check out our NFL predictions for each team’s chances of advancing to the playoffs and winning Super Bowl 50. NFC South15.20%0%0%0% AFC North12.50000 AFC North15151434755 If there’s one thing that can unite a diverse group of NFL fans, it’s ridiculing awful divisions. I think it’s a kind of defense mechanism: We know divisions are at root arbitrary and buck at the notion of a sub-.500 squad making the playoffs (and hosting a game!) while the superior runners-up of other divisions sit at home (which is stupid).That brings us to this year’s Division of Shame, the NFC East. No team in the division is over .500. None has an Elo rating1A measure of team strength that updates with the outcome of every game. better than the league average, and the division’s best team by Elo (Philadelphia) has only a 37 percent chance of winning the division, meaning that an even weaker team could very well represent it in the playoffs. Dallas would have to win Monday night’s game against Washington by 20 or more to reach a league-average Elo rating; Washington has no chance of hitting average, no matter their scoring margin tonight. The division is thoroughly devoid of excellence, and there’s a good chance that will hold true through the end of the regular season.In our NFL predictions module, we use Elo ratings to simulate the remainder of the 2015 schedule 20,000 times, and we can track how often those simulations call for the winner of each division to end up with any given record. According to Elo, the eventual NFC East winner has a 77 percent probability of finishing 8-8 or worse, with a 29 percent chance of at best matching the 2010 Seattle Seahawks for the worst record by a playoff team in NFL history at 7-9: And it could get worse. Before the season, USA Today’s Chris Chase speculated about the worst record a playoff team could ever realistically have, short of technically possible but practically impossible scenarios, such as no team in a division beating a non-divisional opponent and all intra-division games ending in ties. He settled on 6-10 as the most remote practical possibility. Fast forward nearly four months, and our Elo simulations say there’s roughly a 2 percent chance that the NFC East winner will end up with exactly that record, thereby setting a new — and perhaps unbreakable — achievement in the field of “getting in by default.”Should that happen, the 2015 NFC East would be the subject of undying scorn. Yet there’s also evidence that it hasn’t been nearly as bad as some of the NFL’s other “worst division of all-time” candidates. The NFC East’s collective winning percentage in non-division games is 33 percent, which currently ranks 17th-worst in history, but its members have also gotten a bit unlucky in close games outside the division. The division’s Pythagorean winning percentage — i.e., the win rate we’d expect based on points scored and allowed, which is traditionally a better predictor of future outcomes than raw winning percentage — in those games is 42 percent, a mark that doesn’t even rank in the bottom fifth of all divisions since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.In fact, that number isn’t the worst of 2015 — the AFC South’s Pythagorean percentage outside the division is 37 percent. And the average NFC East team’s Elo rating isn’t the lowest of any division in football right now, either: NFC West15541455354 DIVISIONAVERAGESTANDARD DEVIATIONWIN%PYTHAG% NFC North10.92000 NFC East1471323342 DIVISIONAVERAGE WINS9-78-87-96-10 read more

The Patriots Are Almost Certainly Not Going 160

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 read more