Djoker closing on Federer, Nadal

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LONDON (AP) A day after winning Wimbledon for a ninth Grand Slam title, moving within five of Rafael Nadal’s total and putting him more than halfway to Roger Federer’s record of 17, Novak Djokovic was asked about the possibility of catching his two rivals.

He exhaled.

“I don’t want to say it’s too early to talk about it,” Djokovic began, then interrupted himself with a laugh. “I mean, it’s probably the right time to talk about it.”

It sure is.

The No. 1-ranked Djokovic has firmly established his bona fides as one of the greats of the game by just about any measure, including his three championships at Wimbledon, five at the Australian Open, and one at the U.S. Open. By getting to Grand Slam title No. 9, he pushed ahead of quite a group of guys with eight: Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Fred Perry, Ken Rosewall. Plus, Djokovic is 28, and by all accounts only getting better.

As for chasing the numbers put up by contemporaries Federer and Nadal?

“I’m still far, far away from that. It’s still a long way ahead,” Djokovic said Monday at the All England Club, about 18 hours after earning his third Wimbledon championship, and second in a row, with a 7-6 (1), 6-7 (10), 6-4, 6-3 victory over second-ranked Federer. “Winning one Grand Slam, I know what it takes. It’s a lot of effort. A lot of things have to come together. So to reach these two guys would be something incredible. But honestly, I’m not thinking about it now.”

Instead, Djokovic said, he derives motivation from his “passion and love for the sport, and just the joy that I find in playing tennis,” along with a sense of “responsibility” he feels to “keep going and bring joy to myself and to” those closest to him, including his wife and their 8-month-old son, Stefan.

Djokovic also said he feels “like I have many years in front of me.”

That’s probably true, although it will not be easy to maintain the pace he established recently. Over the past 20 Grand Slam tournaments, Djokovic has reached 15 finals – a Federeresque rate – and won eight. And who were the men who lost to Djokovic in those eight? Federer (two), Nadal (three), and Andy Murray (three).

Not too shabby.

As Federer put it during the trophy ceremony at Centre Court on Sunday: “Novak played not only great today but the whole two weeks, plus the whole year, plus last year, plus the year before that.”

If it weren’t for a four-set loss to Stan Wawrinka in the French Open final, after knocking out Nadal in the quarterfinals, Djokovic would be heading to the U.S. Open, which he won in 2011, with a chance at a calendar-year Grand Slam, just like Serena Williams.

Disappointing as that defeat against Wawrinka was, preventing him from claiming a career Grand Slam, Djokovic recovered quickly.

“Considering where I was, my state of mind, I would say, three, four weeks ago,” Djokovic said Monday, “it’s pretty amazing to be here with you today as the Wimbledon champion.”

It was pointed out to Djokovic that he is the only player who has beaten seven-time Wimbledon champion Federer on the grass of the All England Club, as well as nine-time French Open champion Nadal on the red clay of Roland Garros.

And Djokovic happened to do it in the span of a little more than a month.

“That is a great achievement, now that you mention it,” Djokovic said, leaning back in his chair. “I didn’t think about it, but it feels pretty good. It’s probably an ultimate challenge to win against those two guys on their most preferred surfaces.”

Terrific as Djokovic is – owner of the best return in tennis; a genius along the baseline, thanks in part to a speedy, sliding, body-contorting style that lets him get to nearly every ball – he is intent on improving.

That’s why he brought aboard Boris Becker as a second coach, for example, to help his mental toughness and serve, among other things.

Djokovic’s serve is more of an asset than ever – he saved six of seven break points Sunday – and now he has designs on getting to the net more often.

“There is always something I can work on,” Djokovic said, “and I know I can get my game to a higher level.”

 

Big Ten Championship: Best Bets, Predictions, and Preview for Purdue-Michigan

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The regular season in college football ended in spectacular fashion last week, featuring high-stakes rivalry contests and upsets in every major conference. The Big Ten had it all.

In the Big Ten West, where Iowa simply needed to beat a downtrodden Nebraska for the division title, the Cornhuskers upset the Hawkeyes with a remarkable performance on offense. Once Iowa was knocked out, Purdue was in the driver’s seat and took care of business on the road at Indiana to top the West with a 30-16 win over the Hoosiers.

In the Big Ten East, Michigan and Ohio State faced off in Columbus for the division in what was anticipated as the game of the season, with both teams ranked in the top four. The marquee matchup lived up to its billing through three quarters, as Michigan led 24-20 before the final 15 minutes. But the close contest turned into something else entirely in the fourth quarter, as the Wolverines outscored the Buckeyes 21-3 in the final 10 minutes and intercepted Heisman candidate C.J. Stroud twice in the final five. Michigan won the game 45-23 after the runaway ending, keeping its No. 2 CFP ranking and earning its second straight trip to the Big Ten Championship; Ohio State sits No. 5 in the CFP rankings hoping a playoff path emerges for them this weekend.

 

Purdue vs. Michigan Preview: Wolverines seek second straight conference title (MICH -16.5, o/u 51.5)

Best Bets: Michigan -16.5, Over 51.5

No. 2 Michigan (12-0) and Purdue (8-4) will meet at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Saturday night, with Michigan heavily favored to win its second consecutive Big Ten title. The Wolverines made easy work of the Big Ten Championship game in this building last season, defeating Iowa 42-3. Michigan last won back-to-back conference titles in 2003 and 2004.

Michigan will again be without star running back Blake Corum (at one point considered a Heisman contender), who sat out most of the Ohio State game due to a knee injury and is set to undergo season-ending surgery, according to multiple reports.

The team’s rushing core didn’t slow down in Corum’s absence, though, as sophomore Donovan Edwards earned a career-high 22 carries and 216 rush yards, most of which came on 75- and 85-yard touchdown runs in the final minutes against Ohio State. “If somebody’s down, the whole running back room has to be accountable to get the offense going,” Edwards said after the win.

The Wolverines are exuding confidence and pride ahead of this game following their performance in Columbus last weekend.

“We’re excited to get back there, enjoy it, and dominate,” sophomore quarterback J.J. McCarthy said Wednesday. McCarthy was a star last weekend, creating explosive plays that have sometimes been missing from the Michigan passing game this season. He threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns (of 45, 69, and 75 yards) with no interceptions.

McCarthy said that the team is not taking Purdue lightly, but they of course have bigger goals in mind. “It’s another game in the way of our ultimate goal, which is the national championship,” he told reporters. “We’re still focused on going 15-0.” Michigan’s last national title came in 1997, when the team was voted national champions in the AP Poll, but the win was considered contested because Nebraska won the Coach’s Poll.

RELATED: College Football Playoff expands to 12 teams for 2024 season

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh isn’t taking this weekend lightly either. “First rule of champions – do not let up,” he told Michigan Football Radio on Tuesday.

Despite being the better team, the Wolverines are smart not to underestimate the upset-capable Boilermakers from Purdue. Purdue has nine wins against AP No. 1 and No. 2 sides as an unranked team, more than any other school in the poll era. (Michigan is ranked No. 2 in the CFP and AP rankings.) The Boilermakers have upset No. 2 teams in the Big Ten twice in the last four years, first Ohio State in 2018 and then Iowa in 2021.

Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm engineered both of those upsets, and says his team is hungry heading into this weekend. “They’ve got a chip on their shoulder,” he said Thursday. “They’re out to prove to people what they can do.”

Senior quarterback Aidan O’Connell has been practicing since Wednesday and is expected to play. O’Connell led Purdue to its division-sealing win at Indiana last weekend just days after the sudden death of his older brother, Sean. He went home to be with family following that game and returned in time to practice on Wednesday.

In a statement Sunday, O’Connell said, “Sean was not only one of Purdue Football’s biggest fans, but he was a better son, brother and friend.”

O’Connell leads the Big Ten in passing yards per game with an average of 284, while his favorite target – senior wide receiver Charlie Jones – leads the conference in receiving yards and touchdowns (he’s in the top five nationally for both stats as well).

O’Connell and Jones will have their work cut out for them against one of the top defenses in the country, and Purdue will likely use the full playbook as they go to Indiana with nothing to lose.

Prediction: Jeff Brohm and Purdue have proven their ability to play up to great teams like Michigan, and Michigan could be on a comedown after the huge game at Ohio State last weekend. But the Wolverines showed no sign of comedown after Ohio State last year and they should be able to stay in control of this game to cover, even if Purdue creates a little chaos and scores some points to put the Over in play.

 

More Championship Week Predictions

The team at NBC Sports EDGE has taken a deep dive on this week’s Big Ten Championship game and are serving up their favorite plays for the week. Here’s a preview:

Purdue Team Total Over 17.5 (+110)

Vaughn Dalzell (@VmoneySports)

Aidan O’Connell is expected to play but miss some practice after the unexpected death of his brother prior to the Indiana game.

O’Connell could have another emotional showing as a he went 18-of-29 for 290 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Indiana to clinch the Big Ten Championship berth (30-16 win).

With O’Connell as the starting quarterback, the Boilermakers scored 18 or more points in nine out of 11 games this season and six-straight to end last year (15 of the last 17). The only defenses to keep Purdue Under 18 points was Iowa (3 points) and Norhtwestern (17 points) during that 17-game span. 

While it will be an unpopular bet, Purdue could score two-plus touchdowns on Michigan — Rutgers (17), Penn State (17), Illinois (17), Ohio State (23) and Maryland (27) all scored at least 17 points versus Michigan this season.

 

Read more of the EDGE team’s Big Ten plays here. If you’re looking for a deeper dive into every game this Championship Saturday, join NBC Sports analysts Vaughn Dalzell, Eric Froton, and Brad Thomas Saturday from 11A-12P Eastern for the NBC Sports YouTube Championship Saturday Q&A as they dive into the weekend’s slate of games, answer your questions, and offer value plays including sides, totals, and props.

 

 

**Betting stats are provided by BetMGM. Must be 21+ years of age or older to wager. Must be present in NY. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, help is available. Call (877-8-HOPENY) or text HOPENY (467369).

2022 NFL Playoff Picture Week 13: Standings, clinching scenarios ahead of Colts vs Cowboys on SNF

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Week 13 on Sunday Night Football features a showdown between Matt Ryan and the Indianapolis Colts (4-7-1) and Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys (8-3) at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night in America on NBC and Peacock. December is here and Week 13 means that we’re officially thinking about the NFL playoff picture, and who will be in contention for a spot in Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona, this February. Here’s how things stand in the playoff picture heading into the weekend:

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Where do the Colts and Cowboys stand in the 2022 NFL Playoff Picture ahead of Week 13?

Indianapolis Colts:

The Colts entered this season expecting to contend for the AFC South but with 5 losses in the last 6 games, Indianapolis is in danger of missing the postseason for the second straight year. Offensive struggles have been a resounding theme in Indianapolis all season long and contributed to the firing of head coach Frank Reich just nine games into the season. Jeff Saturday, a former Colts center with no professional or college coaching experience prior to this year, was Reich’s replacement and is currently 1-2 in the new role. The Colts enter Week 13 three games behind the AFC South-leading Titans.

RELATED: Trevon Diggs, Michael Gallup miss practice with an illness

Dallas Cowboys:

It’s a completely different story for the Dallas Cowboys who are coming off back-to-back wins over the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants, both NFC contenders. Dallas looks to become the first team to win consecutive division titles in the NFC East since 2001-2004 but sits 2 games behind the powerhouse Philadelphia Eagles for the best record in the NFC East entering Week 13.

See below for the 2022 NFL playoff clinching scenarios and standings for Week 13 as well as additional information on how to watch and live stream this week’s Colts vs Cowboys match-up.

RELATED: How to watch Colts vs Cowboys  – TV/Live Stream info for Sunday night’s game

2022 NFL Playoff Clinching Scenarios for Week 13:

Minnesota Vikings (9-2) vs. NY Jets (7-4) – Sunday, December 4 (1:00 PM ET)

The Minnesota Vikings can clinch the NFC North division title this Sunday with the following:

  • A win against the NY Jets AND a Detroit Lions loss against the Jaguars

OR

  • A tie against the NY Jets AND a Detroit Lions loss against the Jaguars

Philadelphia Eagles (10-1) vs Tennessee Titans (7-4) – Sunday, December 4 (1:00 PM ET)

The Philadelphia Eagles can clinch a playoff berth with the following:

  • A win against the Titans AND a Washington Commanders loss to the Giants AND a 49ers loss/tie to the Dolphins AND a Seahawks loss/tie to the Rams

OR

  • A win against the Titans AND a Washington Commanders tie with the Giants AND a 49ers loss to the Dolphins AND a Seahawks loss to the Rams

RELATED: PFT’s Week 13 2022 NFL power rankings

AFC Standings – Week 13

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)
  2. Buffalo Bills (9-3)
  3. Tennessee Titans (7-4)
  4. Baltimore Ravens (7-4)
  5. Miami Dolphins (8-3)
  6. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)
  7. New York Jets (7-4)

In the Hunt:
Los Angeles Chargers (6-5)
New England Patriots (6-6)
Indianapolis Colts (4-7-1)

NFC Standings – Week 13

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (10-1)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (9-2)
  3. San Francisco 49ers (7-4)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6)
  5. Dallas Cowboys (8-3)
  6. NY Giants (7-4)
  7. Washington Commanders (7-5)

In the Hunt:
Seattle Seahawks (6-5)
Atlanta Falcons (5-7)
Detroit Lions (4-7)


How to watch the Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys:

  • Where: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas
  • When: Sunday, December 4
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

What time is kickoff for the Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys Game?

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

For all your tailgating needs for the 2022 Fall season, click here!

Football Night in America will feature a weekly segment hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


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