Sports

Breaking Down How The Undefeated Carolina Panthers Have Gone 13-0

By David Brown

As the Carolina Panthers continue to extend a somewhat improbable undefeated season, the team has already clinched a playoff spot in the NFC with three weeks left to play and sit at number one in the power rankings.

After making the playoffs in a weak division in the 2014-2015 season, the Panthers went 7-8-1 where they lost in the second round to the Seattle Seahawks. Low expectations stuck with the Panthers through the offseason as sport analysts and writers doubted their legitimacy as real contenders.

The players and coaches responded accordingly.

With the team on the rise, head coach Ron Rivera is now a legitimate contender for coach of the year after the teams longest win streak in franchise history. Rivera’s offense has been deadly to opposing teams this year sitting at number one in points per game with 31.

Cam Newton’s play has been a determining factor in Carolinas undefeated season as he has stepped up significantly as a leader on and off the field. Newton is sixth in touchdowns thrown this year and is tied for sixth with seven rushing touchdowns.

Being nearly impossible to defend in the red zone, Newton has proven to be more than reliable this season in the passing game. The progress made has earned him a contending spot for MVP, although his stats aren’t at the top of the league, he has still been a clutch playmaker that has led his team to thirteen straight wins. Pretty hard to argue against those results.

As the offense is dabbing on the sidelines, the Carolina defense has shown elite status on the field as well.

Jonathan Stewart has also been a key contributor in the Panthers high scoring offense. Stewart is third in the league with 989 rushing yards and is second in the league with 242 attempts. Stewart has racked up five touchdowns and averages 79.2 yards per game and has continued to be a workhorse for this offense. It is worth noting that Stewart was injured last week with a sprained foot. He’ll miss the game this Sunday against the Giants but is expected to be fine for the playoffs.

Greg Olsen, one of the top tight ends in the NFL, leads the Panthers and all NFL tight ends in targets, being thrown the ball 107 times. Olsen leads the team in receiving yards with 969 and has pulled in six receiving touchdowns, second in the league among tight ends.

Throughout these 13 games the Panthers are first in the league in points per game and are second in the league for most rushing yards per game.

As the offense is dabbing on the sidelines, the Carolina defense has shown elite status on the field as well. Carolina’s D is third among yards per game and fourth in rushing yards per game. This defense is most dangerous in its turnover ratios.

The Panthers lead the league in takeaways with 33 total. With one of the top linebacker cores in the NFL, Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly lead the team with a combined 119 tackles and 17 turnovers. Both with high expectations to make the Pro Bowl. This defense only gives up an average of eighteen points per game, the lowest in the league.

This Carolina team’s surprise breakout year has led many to believe the squad as Super Bowl material. They seem to have all the components to be considered a Super bowl team and have proved that through their undefeated season.

As the season wraps up this team’s future is still a debate and it will be interesting to see them in the playoffs. Will the Panthers go undefeated? Could this be Carolina’s time to bring home the Lombardi trophy? Has Cam done enough to earn the MVP award? The Carolina Panthers proved everyone wrong, and yet, have so much more to prove.

Cover Photo Credit: Mike Morbeck/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Are There Too Many Bowl Games?

Ah, the FBS Bowl games.

A litany of college football action stretching from December 19 through January 11, encompassing 41 games and involving 80 teams. From the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl to the National Championship Game.

But while each of these games bring their own sense of basic enjoyment, even more so for the players and fans of those who are deemed worthy to compete in them, the basic question must be raised: are there too many bowl games?

In short, yes there are.

While it is a treat to have as much college football as humanly possible, and there is no shortage of pride when it comes to these post-season games, there are certainly too many in existence.

To understand why there are too many, one must understand what the bowls are meant to represent.

They are meant to be a reward, a pat on the back for success during the season.

However, in recent years, the meaning of “success” has become stretched.

For example, the Cure Bowl features a 5-7 team (San Jose State) facing a team that needed a win on the final weekend to reach .500 (Georgia State).

Another interesting thing that the bowls bring to the fans is an opportunity to see teams play against opponents that they would never face otherwise. But this novelty is undermined this year by the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, which features two teams from the Mountain West Conference  (Nevada and Colorado State).

How do so many absurd bowl match-ups come about? For starters, take in this statistic. Of the 128 FBS programs in the country, a whopping 62.5% of teams make it to the post-season in some respect.

This makes a mockery of the idea of the post-season, and calls into question their true purpose (which is to make money for the numerous sponsors and TV networks).

The real question is not if there are too many bowl games. The real question is how many bowl games should there be.

The answer to this question: 14.

To put it simply, only the top 26 teams, as ranked in the final College Football Playoff standings, should qualify for the post-season. These are the teams that not only have good, if not excellent, records, but they showcase the best of the conferences (and Independent teams). Why one more than the standard 25-team rank? On the surface, it is because an even number of teams must be chosen. But pragmatically, it is to allow for the inclusion of the best military academy (if not already ranked).

Below is this writers personal list of which bowl games should exist. Some of these may not be the heaviest hitters on the normal schedule (and one doesn’t even really exist), but there are reasons for all of them.

  • Military Appreciation Bowl (Annapolis, MD) – This game already features the top military academy. In the event that one of the academies makes it to the CFP, the naming tag still works.
  • Detroit Bowl (Detroit, MI) – Currently, the bowl game in Detroit is called the Quick Lane Bowl. Give this a new name and continue to play it, because there deserves to be at least one bowl game not in the south or west.
  • Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu, HI) – Just as the NFL Pro Bowl used to be played in Hawai’i as a sort of vacation destination, this will allow college players who normally wouldn’t play in that city/state to enjoy the experience.
  • Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN) – Normally a very solid bowl game. Could be used for the SEC, ACC, and/or Big East teams in the 20-26 range in the rankings.
  • Texas Bowl (Houston, TX) – Mainly here because Texas is too big (both in size and football fanaticism) to only hold one bowl game. Good site for Big 12, SEC, AAC, Sun Belt and/or C-USA competition.
  • Poinsettia Bowl (San Diego, CA) – Who wouldn’t want to go to sunny San Diego for a bowl game? Not to mention that the Mountain West teams could use a closer bowl destination.
  • Peach Bowl (Atlanta, GA) – A staple of the bowl game schedule. Usually includes an SEC team, but this year is hosting an ACC-AAC match-up.
  • Citrus Bowl (Orlando, FL) – Another bowl game with a lot of history which falls just outside the “Big 5”. Would be a nice fit between the New Year bowls and the National Championship.
  • Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA) – The “granddaddy of them all”. Will of course continue the Big 10 vs. Pac-10 history.
  • Fiesta Bowl (Phoenix, AZ) – Not as historic as the other FBS bowls. Good place for the match-up of next two teams behind the playoff contenders.
  • Cotton Bowl (Arlington, TX) – A major bowl in the house that Jerry Jones built. Kind of wish they still used the proper Cotton Bowl, but that’s life.
  • Orange Bowl (Miami, FL) – Historically the place for the ACC champions vs. Big East champions match-up. Few places better to hold a football game outside in January.
  • Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA) – Normally reserved for the top SEC team. In the age of the CFP, it continues to be held in high regard.
  • National Championship Game (Various) – The one game to decide the champion. Will continue to bounce around the five FBS bowl sites.

Now this plan probably isn’t perfect, and there would be some hiccups in the early years. But eventually, everyone would adjust just as they have adjusted to the new playoff system.

In the end, while not everyone will be happy, enough people will be to keep this bowl game line-up intact and bring the bowl games back into reverence as the games which decide who the best teams really are.

Cover Photo Credit: Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Do People Really Give A Shit About The MLS?

By Jasmin Ouseph

Here’s some breaking news. Sports are a pretty big deal to many people around the world.

Worldwide, football (or soccer, as we Americans have coined it) indisputably ranks as the most popular sport according to numerous sources.

In the United States, however, soccer comes in at a mere fifth place (based off TV ratings and revenue generated by league), preceded by ice hockey, basketball, baseball, and American football.

The premier soccer league in the United States and Canada is Major League Soccer (MLS), sanctioned by the US Soccer Federation, the official governing body of the sport in America.

The mission statement of US Soccer reads, “to make soccer, in all its forms, a preeminent sport in the United States and to continue the development of soccer at all recreational and competitive levels.”

While gridiron football, baseball, and basketball are the preeminent American sports by general consensus, with others like auto-racing and ice hockey being more regional in their popularity, there isn’t a very defining pattern among the MLS’ viewership.

Among fans of the sport in general, opinions on the MLS specifically are mixed. The league is growing popular with young adults especially.

Kenneth Nti, a student at the University of Florida, believes that the MLS has “grown magnanimously from its birth within the nineties” and has the potential to establish a “soccer platform similar to those in Europe or South America.”

Statistically, at least, the MLS is on the rise.

A lot of that potential comes from the attention of international superstars that settle in the MLS upon retiring from Europe. Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard now plays for the LA Galaxy while Premier League and Serie A wonders Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo, respectively, both play for New York City FC.

Others, meanwhile, simply lack an interest in the MLS.

Leon Peter, a student at Nova Southeastern University, finds that although soccer is his favorite sport, he doesn’t pay much attention to the MLS.

“The play is just sloppy, not as clean,” Peter said. “The skill isn’t as apparent.”

It seems others with similar opinions would rather stick to the Premier League, La Liga, and other European tournaments that see more training, more funding, and more resources overall than the MLS does.

The possibility of a home MLS-member club to support would create a great addition to the league’s fan base.

Given the immense popularity of the sport in Latin America, and the rich Latinx presence in South Florida, David Beckham’s supposed proposition for a Miami-based MLS club would likely be met with big interest.

Statistically, at least, the MLS is on the rise.

According to Amy Rosenfeld, a Senior Coordinating Producer for ESPN who oversees all soccer content for the network (including broadcast of the UEFA Champions League, US Soccer games, and MLS), success for the league according to ESPN standards would physically look like higher ratings.

Given that the MLS is barely 20 years old (it was established in 1996, two years after the US first hosted the World Cup), its ratings are looking pretty impressive.

MLS national TV ratings have increased by 18% from the 2014 year average total.

Currently, ESPN2’s broadcasts are averaging 283,000 per game.

With the 2015 MLS Cup match last Sunday, featuring a 2-1 win for the Portland Timbers, ratings were up 4% for ESPN, 40% for Fox Sports and 3% for UniMas.

Soccer is the world’s sport, and it is slowly but surely on its way to becoming a bigger deal in the US.

While European league matches are still drawing on average three times the weekly viewers the MLS gets, that shouldn’t rule out the hope that the MLS will see a growing fan base and greater national interest in the years to come.

Cover Photo Credit: Ryan Knapp/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Interested in writing about the MLS? Join our team

Correction: 12-9-2015 1:37 AM EST- A previous version of this article had the wrong final score for the MLS Final. The Portland Timbers won 2-1.

In Shock Move, South Carolina Picks Will Muschamp As New Football Coach

Will Muschamp’s second chance will come at South Carolina. The Gamecocks have agreed to a deal that will make the 44-year-old Muschamp the 33rd head football coach in South Carolina football history, a source with direct knowledge of the negotiations told The State on Sunday morning. Like the man he is replacing, Muschamp last was a… Read More

Nick Saban Gets Emotional About Kirby Smart Before SEC Championship

It is rare to see Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban get emotional, save for a sideline outburst at a player or assistant from time to time.

But something rare happened Friday. Saban showed a softer side to the general public and the gathered press at an availability before the SEC championship.

Saban was asked by a reporter how Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart has changed as a coach over the past eight years.

“We’ve worked together for a long, long time,” Saban said in response to the question. “And he’s as good of an assistant coach and as loyal of an assistant coach as I’ve ever had on a staff.”

Smart is widely expected to be the next head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, meaning that the will leave Saban’s side for the first time in over nine years. Smart was the safety’s coach with the Miami Dolphins in 2006 while Saban was there and then joined Saban when he went to Alabama in 2007.

WATCH: Nick Saban becomes emotional while talking about Kirby Smart. (Video from AL.com)

H/T: Saturday Down South

Cover Photo Credit: AL.com/Youtube (Screengrab)

So When When Will The Warriors Finally Lose A Game?

The Golden State Warriors have started the season 19-0. They own the record for the best start to an NBA season. They are the defending champions and they have the reigning league MVP.

But every team has to lose some time, right?

Right?

Well, in a bit of news that won’t shock many and will rouse the haters, if Golden State doesn’t lose soon, they are going to go to celebrate New Year’s still perfect.

How soon are we talking? The next six games.

The Warriors just started a 7-game road trip with a gutsy 106-103 win over the Utah Jazz. They were trailing in that game as late as a minute left in the 4th quarter before Steph Curry started doing Steph Curry things, nailing a three over Rodney Hood in a play that you have probably already seen at least four times.

But it’s not just Curry.

Draymond Green, owner of two triple-doubles already this season, laid out a 20/9/7 line.

Not to mention that the Warriors did this without Harrison Barnes, a key component in the small-ball offense that no team has been able to stop so far this season.

However, all that being said, Golden State is not going 82-0. That is crazy talk. But if the Warriors are going to end 2015 at anything other than 32-0, which team is going to hand them a loss?

Well, as previously mentioned, Golden State is currently on a road trip. And they are playing a few teams that gave them problems earlier in the season. They defeated Toronto 115-110, and they needed overtime to put away the Nets. However, you have to look a little further down to find the team with the best odds.

And that team is the Indiana Pacers. Granted, they are on their own West Coast trip this week, but they have two full days off before they play the Warriors on Dec. 8.

The Pacers also have the comeback player of the year so far in Paul George. George is playing the best basketball of his career, and he certainly has the ability to out-score Curry. The Pacers would have to play defense like the 2013-2014 version of the team, but it’s not impossible.

If Golden State gets by Indiana, the next game to look at for their first loss would be when they face LeBron and the Cavaliers on Christmas Day. You can never count out King James against any opponent, after all.

Get past the Cavs on Christmas? Then the discussion has to turn to 72-10.

Cover Photo Credit: Keith Allison/ Flickr (CC by-SA 2.0)

Kobe Bryant Announces That He Will Retire At End Of Season

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In a post on the Players Tribune website, Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest players in NBA history announced that he would retire at the end of the season.

In a poem like post titled “Dear Basketball”, Bryant said that he would be forever grateful to the sport that gave him so much.

“I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.”

Bryant is an investor with the Players Tribune.

Stay with Rise News. More to come. 

Cover Photo Credit: Keith Allison/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Ezekiel Elliott Bashes Ohio State Play Calling Again On Twitter

Ezekiel Elliott, the Ohio State Buckeye running back who led his team to a 42-13 victory over the Michigan Wolverines earlier in the day has found himself back in controversy on social media.

Elliott tweeted a comment referencing Alabama running back Derrick Henry’s 46 carries in the Crimson Tide’s victory over Auburn.

After the Tide beat the Tigers, Elliott took to Twitter:

Elliott had previously ripped Ohio State coaches for the lack of touches that he received last week when the Buckeyes lost to Michigan State. 

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer refused to suspend Elliott after last week’s comments. 

Cover Photo Credit: Sam Howzit/Flickr (CC By 2.0) 

This Mets Fan Got A Premature Tattoo And Could Literally Not Care Any Less

So this New York bro got a tattoo celebrating the 2015 World Champion New York Mets. The only problem?

The Mets lost the series to the Kansas City Royals in 5 games.

Most people would probably be saying, “Ruh roh” about now. But not this Mets fan. Screw your ruh roh’s.  

Did Josh Davis just become our hero? Yep.

H/T: USA TODAY 

Cover Photo Credit: Josh Davis/ Twitter

The New England Patriots Stand The Best Chance To Go Undefeated This Season Out Of Anyone

There are four NFL teams that are currently undefeated as we near the midway point in this season. But as history shows us, none of them stand much of a chance to finish the season without a loss.

Coming into play yesterday, there were five undefeated teams in the NFL. The New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Carolina Panthers were all perfect through the first 7 weeks of the season.

The Packers and Broncos had to face each other on Sunday Night Football, which meant that one of those teams would certainly have their first loss of the season once Monday morning came around. The Packers ended up suffering their first loss as they were defeated 29 -10.

The big win improved Peyton Manning and his Broncos to 7 – 0. The Carolina Panthers play on Monday Night Football against the Indianapolis Colts. With a win on Monday night, the Panthers will also become 7 – 0, which will leave 4 perfect teams remaining through the first 8 weeks of the season.

Although these teams would all like to remain perfect through the entire season, it is very unlikely that it will happen for any of them.

Read More: “Cause When You Say Miami, You’re Talking Super Troll”: Miami Is Selling Shirts About That Crazy Illegal Game Winning Play

The last team to have a perfect season was the 1972 Miami Dolphins as they finished 17 – 0. The team that came the closest to accomplishing perfection was the 2007 edition of the New England Patriots that went 17 – 1, with their loss coming in the Super Bowl in a classic game against the New York Giants.

With that being said, if I had to choose a team that has the best shot to go undefeated I would choose the Patriots.

Although this team is very different from the team that went 17 – 1 in 2007, there are two main constants. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

Through the first 8 weeks of the season, the Patriots have looked close to unstoppable as a team (other than some struggles against the New York Jets).

Coming off their Super Bowl win against the Seattle Seahawks last season, the Patriots look like they haven’t missed a beat. They lead the NFL with 35.3 points per game. Their defense allows 19 points per game through their first 7 games, which is 9th in the NFL.

Tom Brady at age 38 is having one of the best, if not the best statistical season in his career so far. He’s thrown for 2,410 passing yards through 7 games this season with 20 touchdown passes and only 1 interception. He is also completing 68.9% of his passes which is better than his career average of 63.7%. Remarkable.

As for the rest of the team, Rob Gronkowski has been phenomenal with over 600 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns.

Julian Edelman has been his same old reliable self, and the rest of the team is just following the lead of the Head Coach and star QB.

With all the early success so far this season, the team still has 9 games remaining on their regular season schedule. Although they should be favored in all of their games, they still have some tough games coming up. On November 15, they go into New York to face a tough Giants team lead by Eli Manning who has beaten the Patriots in two Super Bowls, 2008 and 2012.

As I stated before, in 2007 they ended the Patriots chances at an undefeated season with a classic Super Bowl win.

On November 29, the Patriots have to go into Denver to play a potentially undefeated Broncos team as well, which will be a showdown that can’t be missed. If the Patriots can make it to January 3 undefeated, the Miami Dolphins will be the final regular season game for the Patriots in Miami. The Dolphins will do everything that they can to not allow the Patriots to head into the playoffs with an undefeated record, because they want to remain the only franchise in history to have an undefeated team.

The talk of any team going undefeated this season is still premature. There is half a season left to play and so much can take place from now until the final week of the season.

It’s a long season, with many ups and downs for each team and a lot factors into being perfect. Besides having to be great every game you have to also hope for great team health, because one injury to a key player can really hurt a team’s chances in winning at all.

There is still a lot of time before we really should start talking about a team going undefeated, but it should be a fun second half of the season. One thing is for sure, the closer each team gets to being perfect the more pressure the team will face. And not every team shines bright under pressure.

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Cover Photo Credit: Keith Allison/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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