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Super Bowl week is always strange, but this year's coverage has felt especially weird, as it would appear that there is ... nothing worthwhile to talk about.
Axios Sports to the rescue: We have an actual storyline! I repeat, WE HAVE AN ACTUAL STORYLINE!!!
*FiveThirtyEight's Elo system rates teams using only the scores and locations of games. In Week 8, the only teams with double-digit Super Bowl odds according to Elo were the Patriots, Rams, Chiefs and Saints — all of whom made the conference championship game. Elo knows.
More Super Bowl:
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
There is a growing sense around Major League Baseball that the league will eventually expand from 30 to 32 teams, and Portland, Ore. has consistently been mentioned as a potential landing spot.
Driving the news: The Portland Diamond Project, the group attempting to bring baseball to Oregon, recently revealed a list of 12 charter investors. One of them is Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
The big picture: When I heard this news, I was instantly reminded me of a Baseball America article I read about a year ago that explained what MLB might look like with 32 teams.
The 4 divisions: Thoughts on this? The proposal assumes the 2 expansion teams end up in Portland and Montreal.
Go deeper: Longtime baseball scribe Jayson Stark wrote extensively on this topic for The Athletic (subscription).
Virtually every sport is changing offensively and hockey is no different, as the NHL is currently experiencing a power play revolution, Axios' Mike Sykes writes.
What's happening: Teams are abandoning the conservative power play approach in favor of a more aggressive one, and they're scoring a record number of goals as a result.
Between the lines: The most common power play lineup used to be 2 defenseman and 3 forwards, which meant lots of slap shots from the blue line and some added protection against short-handed goals.
Photo: via Greg Aiello's Twitter feed
Above: The coin toss at Super Bowl I (1967). Final score: Packers 35, Chiefs 10
Below: The coin toss at Super Bowl XIX (1985). Final score: 49ers 38, Dolphins 16
Above: The coin toss at Super Bowl XLIX (2015). Final score: Patriots 28, Seahawks 24
Below: The coin toss on Sunday (projected). Final score: N/A. Game canceled due to safety concerns over coin toss overcrowding.
📰 The Greatest Paper That Ever Died (Grantland)
⚽️ Can Big Global Sports Come Around to Human Rights Advocacy? (New York Times)
🏀 Northern Exposure (The Ringer)
Paul Millsap, Al Horford, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll (left to right). Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
4 years ago today, the Atlanta Hawks beat the Philadelphia 76ers 91-85 to finish 17-0 in January, setting a new NBA monthly win record.
The big picture: The Hawks finished with a franchise-record 60 wins and earned the No. 1 seed but were swept by LeBron James and the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals. Atlanta slipped back into mediocrity in 2016 and has been rebuilding ever since.
Jared Goff needed just 3 seasons to reach the Super Bowl, the fewest by a quarterback picked No. 1 overall in NFL history.
Answer at the bottom.
P.S. Yesterday's trivia question was a disaster, as plenty of teams in addition to the Pacers and Packers differ by one letter (Jets, Mets, Nets; Bills, Bulls; Ducks, Bucks; Rams, Rays).
Kitesurfers in Dubai. Photo: Guiseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images
Kendall "Imagine sifting through 46 hours of footage" Baker
Trivia answer: John Elway, Troy Aikman, Drew Bledsoe, Eli Manning