Did Neanderthals Need the Gospel?

first_imgIt’s a logical question if Neanderthals were human beings, as scientists now recognize.Increasingly, evolutionary anthropologists are admitting that they had Neanderthals all wrong. Neanderthals were people, not brutes. They were our intellectual equals (in terms of brain capacity), and probably our physical superiors. Why have they been maligned for so long? And now that they are recognized as fully Homo sapiens, how should we repent of historical racism, and treat them with the respect they deserve?Viewpoint: Why we still underestimate the Neanderthals (BBC News). With this Tontological question, the BBC tries to walk back over a century of misjudgment about our Neanderthal brethren. BBC reporters—all DODO loyalists—were probably as much to blame as other Darwinians. They all focused on slight anatomical differences in Neanderthals, as if those were proxies for intelligence. Fortunately, at least one secular paleoanthropologist is willing to lead his fellows out of the dark cave of evolutionary bias: Clive Finlayson. “In recent years, we have seen how differences in anatomy seem not to have mattered,” he says. Who were the real cavemen? In Plato’s cave, it was the Darwinians!And so we have consistently mistaken survival and extinction with biological superiority or inferiority. That is why we have incessantly sought differences to explain our observations. We are here and they are not and so we must seek differences to explain the data.Of course, part of the problem is that we are participants trying to explain a story in which we are actors and that will inevitably lead to bias in our favour. Having given the Neanderthals a name, we immediately conditioned ourselves to seeing them as something else.They were not us. They were hardly human and we were certainly superior to them [Finlayson says with sarcasm]. After all, we are here to tell the story. It is one of history’s ultimate distortions, perhaps the greatest of them all.So sheepish is Finlayson about his field’s racist bias, he ends by saying he would be ashamed to meet a Neanderthal today. “If our history is anything to go by, what would we do if we found a remotely isolated group of Neanderthals somewhere on Earth today?,” he asks. “I leave it to the reader to answer that question.” We all know what would happen. “Modern” racists (should we call them ‘modern-human supremacists’?) would undoubtedly commit genocide against these strong, skilled, intelligent people, just because they look a little different.This book by Sanford and Rupe examines all the “hominins” and evolutionary myths about them.Our Equals or SuperiorsPrehistoric cave art suggests ancient use of complex astronomy (Science Daily). This article says that Neanderthals and other peoples of their time could use astronomy to keep dates up to 250 years.Study suggests multiple instances of inter-breeding between Neanderthal and early humans (Phys.org). This is one more study showing that Neanderthals and so-called “modern” humans could get married and have children. That means they were clearly of the same species as us. Look at the skulls at the top of the article; are they really that different? Big brains, eyes, all the human traits are there, just slightly different in some ratios. The similarities are greater than the differences. Even today, we know that people can differ widely in anatomy. Put Andre the Giant next to a petite Asian girl. The differences don’t matter to their humanity.Neanderthals: javelin athletes helped us show how effective they were at hunting with weapons  (The Conversation). In this study, modern javelin throwers tried their hand at hitting targets with replicas of Neanderthal spears. You can watch their attempt in a short video clip. The design of the spears makes them more aerodynamically stable, but harder to throw than modern javelins. “Rather than being a limitation of the spears,” Annemieke Milks says, “this may mean that Neanderthals, with their robust physiques, would throw such spears with great power.” Neanderthals could have swept all the Olympic medals if competing with “modern” javelin athletes. It also takes skill, planning, and excellent hand-eye coordination to kill large prey from a distance with a spear. Modern hunters with rifles couldn’t do that. All they have to do is aim and let the gunpowder do the hard work.ImplicationsIn short, evolutionary anthropologists have erred by giving Neanderthals a different species name, and implying they were more primitive or ‘less evolved’ than we are. “The footnote is that we have to change the chip, the paradigm if you prefer,” advises Finlayson (using “we” again, when not everybody has been guilty of historical racism). That’s a pretty big footnote. It means overthrowing a bias that has gone on for well over a century, and tossing out all the baggage that went with it. The old teachings need to be shamed and shunned. It’s way past time for Neanderthal Civil Rights. It’s time to respect our kin.Getting back to our headline, did Neanderthals need the gospel? For Christians, the question answers itself. If these were people, they were sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. As in Adam all die, in Christ shall all be made alive, said Paul in I Corinthians 15:22. As intelligent men and women, boys and girls, Neanderthals needed salvation as much as any of us. This people group needed Christ just like all humans do today, including those who look “different” from western biased perceptions of how people ‘should’ look. Missionaries since the resurrection of Christ have taken the gospel to all tribes, tongues, and peoples. Remember that in the Bible, there was a long period (centuries) before and after the Flood when there was no written Word of God that we know of. People since Adam’s fall had natural revelation from creation and conscience. They had oral tradition (which can be accurate for generations). And they had prophets like Enoch, Noah and Abraham long before Moses took tablets of stone written with the “finger of God” down from Mt Sinai. Paul told the pagan people of Lystra (Acts 14) that God did not leave Himself without witness. He told the Athenians that God made us so that all men would seek after Him, even though He is not far from any one of us (Acts 17:27).Notice how it was evolutionists who committed the historical racism. This needs to be a lesson to pastors today. Many evangelical pastors are so fearful of the scientific consensus on evolution, they avoid the subject, thinking the gospel will be maligned if they don’t accept everything scientists tell us. But the scientists were wrong! —wrong for 150 years! Watch this short episode from ‘Is Genesis History?‘ where Del Tackett asks Dr Kelly about how 19th-century theologians caved in to the scientific consensus. Many still do today. Trust in the consensus is the only motivation for so-called ‘theistic evolution’ and various compromise positions. To the law and to the testimony! Isaiah warned. If the Lord be God, follow Him! Elijah challenged. We know what the Word of God says about creation and the history of mankind. We see repeatedly the extreme errors of Darwinian evolution, which often go on for decades or centuries. We don’t need those blind leaders of the blind. People need the Word of the Lord. Pray for boldness to preach the Word to a culture, like Lystra, wandering blindly in idolatrous myths.This is a good opportunity to share this anecdote again: Joachim Neander, the original ‘Neanderthal Man’ whose property gave the name ‘Neanderthal Man’ to the bones found there, was a preacher of the gospel. He also wrote the famous hymn extolling the truth about the origin of the world and man, “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation.” Sing that! —not “It’s a long way from amphioxus.”(Visited 614 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky, Nigel Hayes and Duje Dukan Are Hanging With Local Elementary Students Today

first_imgFrank Kaminsky on the court against Duke.INDIANAPOLIS, IN – APRIL 06: Frank Kaminsky #44 of the Wisconsin Badgers reacts after falling to the court in the first half against the Duke Blue Devils during the NCAA Men’s Final Four National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 6, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)The No. 5 Wisconsin men’s basketball team last played at Michigan on Saturday and won’t take the court again until this Saturday at Iowa. With some extra free time this week, Badger big men Frank Kaminsky, Nigel Hayes and Duje Dukan are hanging out with the students at Glacier Edge Elementary School in nearby Verona, Wis. All three players spoke with the students as part of the school’s Kindness Week activities. The All-American Kaminsky even took a selfie with some students: #BadgersGiveBack #Notor #NigelHayesA photo posted by Frank Kaminsky (@fskpart3) on Jan 28, 2015 at 9:00am PST Dukan, who is 6-foot-10, tried to blend in with the crowd but it didn’t work out too well.New game: #WheresDuje? pic.twitter.com/GOY5bm3J8V— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) January 28, 2015 Hayes, meanwhile, may not have a future as a comedian judging off this joke, but he does know his state geography. Stand-up comedy with Nigel Hayes #BadgersGiveBackA video posted by Wisconsin Basketball (@badgermbb) on Jan 28, 2015 at 8:39am PSTOne underrated aspect of these photos and video is the impressive jersey game of some of the students at Glacier Edge. The local staples (Wisconsin and the Green Bay Packers) are of course represented, but shoutout to the kid in the sweet Dallas Mavericks throwback, and the two young men who wore the NFL jerseys of Badger alumni Russell Wilson and J.J. Watt.last_img read more

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Florida’s Governor Is Sending Personal Letters To Football Recruits Who Stay Home, Play For Gators

first_imgA Florida Gators player running on the field with a Florida Gators flag.LEXINGTON, KY – SEPTEMBER 23: Chauncey Gardner Jr #23 of the Florida Gators celebrates after the 28-27 win over the Kentucky Wildcats at Kroger Field on September 23, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)Yesterday, 5-star Florida defensive end signee CeCe Jefferson shared that he had received a letter from Florida Governor Rick Scott congratulating him for staying in-state for college. It appears Scott is sending these letters to other UF signees from the Sunshine State. Here is a photo of the letter that was sent to Pasco High School defensive lineman Andrew Ivie, courtesy of his coach Tom McHugh. To Andrew Ivie pic.twitter.com/gWzqsyPNzw— Tom McHugh (@tmac114) April 1, 2015This is interesting, because it appears Scott is making a concerted effort to thank recruits for playing in-state. Wonder how FSU fans feel about this, unless he is sending them to Seminole signees as well.last_img read more

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Five First Nations block tarsands highway in the name of Idle No

first_img(Photo courtesy of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation)*This story has been edited to remove sections that were inadvertently copied from a Sun Media article by Vincent McDermott. APTN National News sincerely apologizes and regrets the error.By Noemi LoPinto APTN National News EDMONTON–About 100 people blocked Hwy. 63 north of Fort McMurray, Alta., this afternoon, the main artery that leads to the tarsands.The chief of Athabasca Fort Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) says people from more than five First Nations in and around the area took part in bringing traffic to a crawl for over two hours.The ACFN and the Mikisew Cree Nation have been at the forefront of the battle over the tarsands for years, and ACFN has repeatedly appealed to the courts to slow down the pace of development on his traditional territory.Adam said the anger in his community has been building for decades, but has taken on a more active form now that Bill C-45 has been passed into law.“Prime Minister Harper can’t just do anything he wants,” said Adam. “If he wants to promote Canada as a country where dictatorship has taken root, he’s going to have a hard time.”Thursday’s protest was also intended to show support for hunger-striking Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat First Nation in northeastern Ontario.The protesters used their bodies to block the road, standing in both lanes with signs bearing the Idle No More banner, and shouting their support for Spence.While there was some grumbling by motorists, Adam said the protest was mostly well- received.“Some people flipped us the finger but we just waved back at them, “he said. “They don’t understand what is going on here in Canada all you can do is pray for them to understand what it’s all about.”Adam said he personally was very concerned for the health and well-being of Spence.“God forbid something happens to her. If something happens to her, Stephen Harper will not only have this bill on his hands but the life of the chief. If that happens, this country will erupt.”[email protected]last_img read more

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Farmland now protected with government Legislation

first_imgVICTORIA, B.C. – February 22nd, 2019, Bill 52 has strengthened the B.C.’s Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) Regulations by enhancing food security and encouraging farming in the ALR.“I’m very happy to see this law come into full force and effect,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “This new law will encourage farming and better protect farmland by banning mega-mansions, stopping the illegal dumping of waste on farmland and reinstating the one-zone system. It’s a great step in our effort to revitalize the Agricultural Land Reserve so that British Columbians can count on a safe, secure supply of locally grown food on their tables for years to come.”According to the government the Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act, 2018 provides three key changes, including: Restricting the removal of soil and increased penalties for the dumping of construction debris and other harmful fill in the ALR.Directly addressing mega-mansions and speculation in the ALR by limiting primary residence size on ALR lands and empowering the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to approve additional residences if they are for farm use.Reunifying the ALR as a single zone, ensuring consistent rules with strong protections for all provincial ALR land.“At the same time, we’re supporting larger farming families by ensuring that those who need extra living space to support their farming operations have a path forward at the ALC to build a larger home,” said Popham. “Multigenerational farming families are the backbone of agriculture throughout B.C.”November 5th, 2018, Bill 52 was introduced and received royal assent three weeks later requiring regulation to bring the law into force. The government’s legislative changes make it clear that British Columbia’s ALR is for farming and ranching, not for building mega-mansions and dumping construction waste.Established in 1973, the ALR is administered by the ALC, an independent tribunal mandated to preserve agricultural land and encourage farming on agricultural land. The ALR includes over 4.7 million hectares of B.C. that are preserved for agricultural use – less than 5% of B.C.’s total land base.last_img read more

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Sheila Dikshit slams Modi govt for sealing

first_imgNEW DELHI: Congress’ North-East Delhi candidate Sheila Dikshit said that she fully understands the difficulties of the voters, particularly the women voters, as before entering active politics, she had played the role of a devoted mother and a housewife. She said that she realizes the anger and helplessness of the people affected by the sealing and demolition drive, as these reckless moves by the BJP and AAP Governments have ruined the lives of lakhs of people. She said that these drives have particularly affected the mothers and their children, as they stare at an uncertain future with anxiety. Also Read – Odd-Even: CM seeks transport dept’s views on exemption to women, two wheelers, CNG vehiclesSheila Dikshit on Tuesday made extensive tour of her constituency, interacting with the people to seek their votes and support for her in the Lok Sabha election. She visited the Shiv Vihar tiraha, near dispensary, Mustafabad and Gali No 1, Vikas Samiti, Durgapuri. Dikshit alleged that due to the shadow boxing and theatrics by the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party, the people of Delhi have been driven to the edge of ruin. “The BJP Govt at the Centre did nothing to stop the sealing, demolition drive, which could have easily saved the livelihood of lakhs of people, and protect the jobs of several lakh workers,” she said.last_img read more

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Who Are The Favorites In The 2019 NFL Season

Kansas CityP. Mahomes+59161510.369%50%9% Chance To… Travel distance and rest matter. We used to give a blanket home-field advantage of 65 Elo points for every game that wasn’t at a neutral site. Now, we modify our home-field effect4Which is worth a flat adjustment of 55 Elo points. using the distance the visiting team needed to travel to get to the game, docking a team by 4 points of Elo for every 1,000 miles traveled.5This effect is not applied to international games, though it is used for the Super Bowl. Teams also perform better after a bye week (including teams that don’t play during the opening week of the playoffs), so we now give a bonus of 25 Elo points whenever a team is coming into a game fresh and extra-rested. The AFC South experienced a dramatic shakeup when Andrew Luck retired two weeks ago, giving the division a whole new favorite: the Texans. Now, Houston is in somewhat tenuous possession of that distinction, with No. 6-ranked QB Deshaun Watson leading the way — despite last weekend’s bombshell trade that shipped star pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney to Seattle. The Titans aren’t far behind Houston, although QB Marcus Mariota has regressed over the past few years: In Week 12 of the 2016 season, his Elo adjustment would have been 61 points higher than an average quarterback; now it’s 34 points below average. The Jaguars are right in the mix as well, thanks in part to the acquisition of former Eagles backup Nick Foles; Foles adds 14 points of Elo compared with the team’s long-term historical QB rating (i.e., Blake Bortles). Finally, the Colts went from first to last in Elo’s division prediction — literally overnight — after Luck retired. Backup Jacoby Brissett is worth about 90 fewer Elo points by himself than Luck would have been — a huge blow to Indy’s chances of making a return trip to the playoffs. Even so, this is the most uncertain division race in the league. Chance To… ClevelandB. Mayfield+915168.441252 TeamStarting QBvs. avgElo RatingProj. WinsMake PlayoffsWin DivisionWin Super Bowl New EnglandT. Brady+52164011.180%69%14% Chance To… N.Y. JetsS. Darnold-4814527.124111 L.A. RamsJ. Goff-915889.660%46%7% How we’re predicting the AFC North race OaklandD. Carr-2614135.8125<1 L.A. ChargersP. Rivers+415809.659366 Quarterback ratings are relative to the average NFL team’s long-term rolling QB performance and are included in the listed Elo ratings. Simulations are updated as of Sept. 3, 2019.Source: ESPN PittsburghB. Roethlisberger+8715699.558%41%5% MiamiR. Fitzpatrick-213895.5104<1 MinnesotaK. Cousins+1215408.543273 Quarterback ratings are relative to the average NFL team’s long-term rolling QB performance and are included in the listed Elo ratings. Simulations are updated as of Sept. 3, 2019.Source: ESPN CincinnatiA. Dalton-4014146.2158<1 TeamStarting QBvs. avgElo RatingProj. WinsMake PlayoffsWin DivisionWin Super Bowl Quarterback ratings are relative to the average NFL team’s long-term rolling QB performance and are included in the listed Elo ratings. Simulations are updated as of Sept. 29, 2019.Source: ESPN This is the tightest division race in the NFC. The Bears are favored to win again, though Mitchell Trubisky is Elo’s second-lowest rated QB in the North. (He’s 13th overall, so it mainly speaks to the quality of passers in this division.) On the other side of the ball, the amount of talent on Chicago’s defense is impressive, a necessary component as the Bears are hoping to repeat as last year’s stingiest defense in terms of points allowed. The Vikings come in slightly lower but are still 13th overall by the Elo rankings. So should we blame QB Kirk Cousins for Minnesota’s disappointing 2018 season? Probably not. Although his Elo rating wasn’t as high as during his 2016 or 2017 campaigns, Cousins was good for most of last year, and he enters 2019 as our 12th-ranked quarterback. But the best QB Elo in the division belongs to Aaron Rodgers of the Packers. Even if former coach Mike McCarthy didn’t always put him in the best position to succeed, Rodgers still had solid numbers last season and is currently ranked seventh in QB Elo. (It’s the rest of the roster that’s holding Green Bay back from a division probability better than that 24 percent.) Last, we have the Lions. They project to finish fourth, with QB Matthew Stafford coming off his worst season in years and a second-year coach already on the hot seat. But we do call for Detroit to return to its rightful place in the NFL standings, with roughly a 7-9 record, after last season’s 6-10 hiatus. The Chiefs are the second-most-likely team to win the Super Bowl, trailing only the Patriots. One of the biggest reasons: Elo ranks Patrick Mahomes as the fourth-most-valuable QB in the league behind Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan and Drew Brees. Although K.C. will probably regress some after last year’s breakout (we think the Chiefs’ point differential will fall from +144 to +79), and the defense is no better than average (it ranks 16th in ESPN’s preseason Football Power Index), we think this is the team most likely to dethrone New England. The Chargers aren’t running very far behind, either, ranking sixth in overall Elo. L.A. didn’t do much over the offseason — and its trademark injury problems are already cropping up — but this remains one of the most talented rosters in the game. The gap between this division’s top two and bottom two is vast. The Broncos upgraded under center with former Ravens QB Joe Flacco, but he’s still mediocre at best. Late summer for the Raiders has been a circus even by the standards of a “Hard Knocks” team; maybe Brown will improve QB Derek Carr’s numbers, but the team has plenty of other question marks. Oakland and Denver won’t be helped by playing the two toughest schedules in the league, either. Chance To… WashingtonC. Keenum-2414276.31691 Quarterback ratings are relative to the average NFL team’s long-term rolling QB performance and are included in the listed Elo ratings. Simulations are updated as of Sept. 3, 2019.Source: ESPN Quarterback ratings are relative to the average NFL team’s long-term rolling QB performance and are included in the listed Elo ratings. Simulations are updated as of Sept. 3, 2019.Source: ESPN Chance To… TeamStarting QBvs. avgElo RatingProj. WinsMake PlayoffsWin DivisionWin Super Bowl How we’re predicting the NFC South race How we’re predicting the NFC North race DenverJ. Flacco-1614626.82091 TeamStarting QBvs. avgElo RatingProj. WinsMake PlayoffsWin DivisionWin Super Bowl How we’re predicting the AFC East race San FranciscoJ. Garoppolo-2114807.428171 HoustonD. Watson+2915338.443%32%3% As we said above, the Patriots are not only the division favorites (for what feels like the millionth consecutive season) but are also the model’s top Super Bowl pick. Their fate is tied to Tom Brady continuing to play well at an age when basically no other QB has done that, of course, and he’ll have to do it without favorite security blanket Rob Gronkowski, who retired in March. But Brady hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down yet, and he’ll get to face the NFL’s easiest schedule7According to the average Elo ratings of New England’s regular-season opponents, adjusted for expected starting QBs and home-field advantage. in 2019. Perhaps surprisingly, Elo gives the Bills a slight edge over the Jets for second place in the East. Both teams’ sophomore QBs (Josh Allen and Sam Darnold) played well down the stretch last season, though our model likes Allen a bit more. New York had the more eventful offseason, signing Le’Veon Bell and abruptly firing GM Mike Maccagnan, but the Bills might have made steadier progress. And the Dolphins bring up the rear, though they have the division’s second-highest rated Elo QB in newcomer Ryan Fitzpatrick. (Amid questions of Miami tanking, Vegas gives the Phins 500-to-1 Super Bowl odds, the worst in football.) IndianapolisJ. Brissett-5514797.328191 Chance To… How we’re predicting the NFC East race AtlantaM. Ryan+6715338.339233 TeamStarting QBvs. avgElo RatingProj. WinsMake PlayoffsWin DivisionWin Super Bowl N.Y. GiantsE. Manning-2714246.4179<1 DallasD. Prescott+1815478.949334 TeamStarting QBvs. avgElo RatingProj. WinsMake PlayoffsWin DivisionWin Super Bowl New OrleansD. Brees+61160410.063%46%8% ArizonaK. Murray-5013895.5106<1 Tampa BayJ. Winston+714466.61791 Quarterback ratings are relative to the average NFL team’s long-term rolling QB performance and are included in the listed Elo ratings. Simulations are updated as of Sept. 3, 2019.Source: ESPN The more things change in the NFL, the more they stay the same. Fresh off of their sixth Super Bowl win with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick at the helm, the defending champion New England Patriots open the 2019 season as our favorite to win again. The rest of the top contenders are similar to last season’s as well: the Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles round out the top five in Super Bowl odds, according to our predictions.But our NFL Elo model has changed in a somewhat significant way. You can read more about how it all works here, but in a nutshell, we have added a number of wrinkles to make our football picks more accurate:Quarterback adjustments. We hinted at this over the summer, but we now track rolling performance ratings1Based on a regression between Total QBR yards above replacement and basic box score numbers (including rushing stats) from a given game, adjusted for the quality of opposing defenses. for each QB in the league, which can then be compared with a team’s own rolling QB rating to adjust its Elo in games with a different quarterback starting.2This is very similar to the way we handle starting-pitcher adjustments in our MLB Elo model. (Related to this, we have a new interactive page that shows the relative quality of every quarterback in the league.)3Initial ratings for rookies are based on draft position, ranging from a 0 for an undrafted free agent to a +113 for a No. 1 overall pick like Arizona’s Kyler Murray. TeamStarting QBvs. avgElo RatingProj. WinsMake PlayoffsWin DivisionWin Super Bowl JacksonvilleN. Foles+914987.835242 TennesseeM. Mariota-3415027.836252 Quarterback ratings are relative to the average NFL team’s long-term rolling QB performance and are included in the listed Elo ratings. Simulations are updated as of Sept. 3, 2019.Source: ESPN CarolinaC. Newton+1415158.338223 BuffaloJ. Allen-1214757.630151 SeattleR. Wilson+1415458.746314 Green BayA. Rodgers+2815228.238243 Rumors of the Steelers’ demise appear to have been greatly exaggerated. Despite a tumultuous offseason that involved officially losing Bell8The running back sat out all of last season as part of a contractual dispute. and also shipping receiver Antonio Brown to the Raiders, Pittsburgh remains the top-ranked team in the North. Part of that is thanks to Ben Roethlisberger, who checks in as Elo’s No. 1 overall QB, and part of it is because the Steelers have one of the league’s easiest schedules. The Ravens and Browns are neck-and-neck behind them; Elo is skeptical about Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson after he posted not-so-great numbers as a rookie, but it thinks his supporting cast is superior to Baker Mayfield’s in Cleveland — despite the Browns’ big offseason (hi, Odell) and general hype level heading into 2019. Meanwhile, the Bengals are a distant No. 4, as QB Andy Dalton has seen better days, and the team is breaking in a first-time head coach (Zac Taylor). TeamStarting QBvs. avgElo RatingProj. WinsMake PlayoffsWin DivisionWin Super Bowl BaltimoreL. Jackson-4015278.441263 DetroitM. Stafford-2214586.922121 Chance To… PhiladelphiaC. Wentz+2015869.863%49%7% Last year, the defending champion Eagles suffered a historic hangover to start their 2018 season, but eventually righted the ship to make the playoffs and even win a first-round game. Armed with Elo’s eighth-ranked QB (Carson Wentz), a talented supporting cast and one of the easiest schedules in the NFL, our model thinks Philadelphia should be division favorites in 2019 — particularly if the Eagles have better injury luck. The defending East champ Cowboys might have something to say about the Eagles being favorites, however, regardless of the holdout of RB Ezekiel Elliott. We rank QB Dak Prescott ninth in Elo, right behind Wentz. Once again trailing in the division are the Giants and Redskins; Washington has the better Elo rating but is slightly less likely to make the playoffs because of a tougher schedule than that of New York. Fittingly, both teams have mediocre veteran QBs (Eli Manning and Case Keenum) trying to fend off highly drafted rookies (Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins). At the top of the NFC South, we have Drew Brees and the Saints coming in as favorites to win the division for a third straight year. Elo rates Brees as the league’s third-best QB, even though he sputtered down the stretch of last season and will turn 41 in January. Fortunately for New Orleans, its supporting cast appears to be good enough to help ease Brees into old age, ranking eighth in QB-independent Elo.9I.e., the team’s adjusted Elo rating if Brees were to be replaced with an average starter at quarterback. As for the Falcons, Matt Ryan is No. 2 in our QB rankings, but the rest of the team ranks 25th in QB-independent Elo. That’s more an indictment of a defense that ranks 23rd in preseason projected FPI than an offense that still includes hyper-productive WR Julio Jones, but Atlanta is hoping that a coaching staff of all new coordinators can help Ryan. The Panthers are still only three seasons removed from a Super Bowl appearance, but they’ve gone exactly 24-24 since then. Elo calls for more of the same this season, with an 8-8 projected record, although Carolina does have the No. 10 QB in our rankings (Cam Newton) and a respectable 38 percent chance of getting back to the playoffs. Finally, the Buccaneers are hoping to end the franchise’s postseason drought at 11 seasons — but they need to improve on last year’s horrid defensive performance and get more consistency from both Jameis Winston and a passing attack that had the third-highest game-to-game QB Elo variance10Trailing only the Rams and the Nathan Peterman-led Bills. of any team in 2018. How we’re predicting the AFC South race ChicagoM. Trubisky+1215669.152%37%5% How we’re predicting the AFC West race The playoffs are different. We found that differences in talent between opposing teams tend to be amplified in the NFL postseason, so now Elo differentials are multiplied by 1.2 before computing the expected win probabilities and point spreads for playoff games.Altogether, these changes improved our historical predictions by quite a bit in backtesting, so we’re feeling confident that our 2019 picks will be better than ever before.6You might notice that we don’t have a dedicated factor for defense included in the model. For one thing, defense would implicitly be part of a team’s non-quarterback Elo rating; for another thing, it was difficult to find specific defensive variables (such as coordinators) which improved predictive accuracy — perhaps because defense is notoriously difficult to predict between seasons. For cases below where we do need to refer to a team’s projected defensive quality, we used ESPN’s Football Power Index projections for the upcoming season.And what are those picks, exactly? Let’s run down what our Elo model thinks of each division in the NFL, starting with… Quarterback ratings are relative to the average NFL team’s long-term rolling QB performance and are included in the listed Elo ratings. Simulations are updated as of Sept. 3, 2019.Source: ESPN How we’re predicting the NFC West race What would Vegas do? In the past, our preseason ratings would simply be each team’s final rating from the previous season, reverted to the league’s average Elo rating by one-third. But our new system also incorporates ratings derived from a team’s over/under win total according to the Las Vegas sportsbooks, giving those twice the weight of mean-reverted Elo when setting a team’s preseason rating. Chance To… The Rams are coming off a Super Bowl run, and there were times last season when they looked unbeatable, not least because of a GOAT-level performance by defensive lineman Aaron Donald. But with questions remaining about QB Jared Goff and RB Todd Gurley — to say that neither were major factors in the playoffs would be an understatement — L.A. might be due for a regression, even if Elo does still consider the Rams division favorites. A number of signs point to a decline, from L.A.’s 6-1 record in close games last year and favorable bounces in recovering fumbles, to a more difficult schedule and even the possibility of adverse effects due to more injuries. Elo thinks the Rams’ point differential will drop from +143 to +58 this season. Behind them, the Seahawks have the division’s best (slash only above-average) Elo QB in Russell Wilson, and they did some offseason shuffling — Clowney and Ziggy Ansah will replace Frank Clark on the pass rush, for example. But Seattle mostly looks like the same good-but-not-great team it was last season. The 49ers will get a do-over with Jimmy Garoppolo after the QB was injured three games into the 2018 season. But is Jimmy G. any good? Elo’s still not sure. It ranks Garoppolo 22nd among starters heading into 2019, despite his hefty price tag. All three of those teams could potentially contend for the division, though. For the Cardinals, that looks like a long shot at best with the tandem of rookie QB Kyler Murray and first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Elo gives Arizona the worst rating and tied for the lowest playoff odds of any team in the NFL this season. read more

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Womens lacrosse Ohio State has sights set on NCAA tournament redemption

OSU coach Alexis Venechanos running practice ahead of their Feb. 6 match-up with Vermont. Credit: James King IIWhile its season opener is not until Feb. 6, the Ohio State women’s lacrosse team already has its sights set on the Big Ten championship later this year.Senior defender Meredith Bushell and the rest of the Buckeyes are looking to overcome the disappointment of not advancing to the NCAA tournament last season.“We’re definitely using it to fuel our fire, we’re using it as a motivation,” said Bushell. “We were not happy with the results we had last year, so we’re looking to make it this year.”Prior to last season, OSU had made two consecutive NCAA tournaments and seemed to be in prime position to earn a third berth until they stumbled late in the season. This year, OSU coach Alexis Venechanos said she feels like the foundation that has been built in the previous years has their team trending up.“Our goal is to have that mission: to be playing in Maryland in May” Venechanos said. “Our last game right now is in April so, if we’re playing in May, it will be for the Big Ten championship and NCAA championship.”While the Buckeyes launched themselves to an 11-1 start in 2016, they dropped their last five games of the year, including an overtime loss to Rutgers in the Big Ten tournament, ultimately finishing at 11-6.“Knowing that (the Big Ten conference) is one of the tougher ones, it kind of excites us. It kind of adds something,” senior midfielder Paulina Constant said. “We’re definitely still excited. We are planning for every single one of those games down from Michigan all the way up to Penn State, Maryland and all of those games. We’re not taking any of them lightly and we’re excited to play each team, get to the Big Ten [tournament] and hopefully win.”OSU will need to find new sources of production on both ends of the field after graduating their two leading point-getters, Cian Dabrowski and Rainey Hodgson, along with their starting goalie Katie Frederick.“We have new faces on both ends of the goal, literally, and our goalie competition is fierce, it’s competitive,” Venechanos said. “I think this year we’re going to have a lot more balance, we have a lot of different types of looks. We have tall girls, we have short girls, we have lefties, we have righties, we have dodgers, we have feeders, so I think we’ll be more dynamic because of that.”The team is not shying away from the challenges that this season is going to bring them. Instead they are embracing it. Constant said she believes they will be successful by taking what worked well from last season and seeing how it will work for them this year.“Of course we had a lot of our attack graduate. But just encouraging everyone to step up, I think that’s a big thing for us,” Constant said. “Just making sure that everyone has the confidence. We have the skill, we just need the confidence to be able to do it.”While their first game against Vermont is Monday at 7 p.m. in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, the Buckeyes are hoping their last is in the NCAA championship game.“Our goal is definitely long term, but it’s on our mind daily: what are you going to do to get us to be playing in the NCAA tournament?” Venechanos said. read more

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Saturdays loss affects pride more than championship chances

The Badgers took down the top-ranked, undefeated Buckeyes in Madison, Wis. It’s happened twice since October in two sports. But let’s move on. Let’s move on from Badger fans allegedly spitting on Ohio State players, chanting homophobic slurs with Buckeyes on the free-throw line and screaming, “F— Ohio!” before the opening tip. The land’s best fans are above that. Let’s move on from the notion that somehow there’s a connection between Saturday’s loss and the Oct. 16 football game. Let’s move on because, unlike that football game, this team’s chances at a National Championship are the same now as they were on Friday. A loss in February does not break what could be a dream season in college basketball. Coach Thad Matta has continually emphasized that this team’s goal was never to go undefeated — it was to win the Big Ten Championship. The team had already moved on from an undefeated season before taking its first loss. Even with the defeat, OSU leads the conference by two games with six contests left. Four of those are at home, including the regular-season finale, a rematch against Wisconsin on March 6 in Columbus. At this point, it would take more than one loss to cost this team a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. But while Saturday’s defeat is relatively inconsequential in the big picture, it sure doesn’t feel that way, does it? Until the Buckeyes beat the Badgers, there are things that happened in the loss to Wisconsin that we can’t move on from. We can’t move on from watching a 15-point lead dissolve almost instantaneously, after a barrage of threes jet-fueled the bedlam at the Kohl Center.    We can’t move on from that unutterable feeling that churned the pits of our stomachs when we watched a guy named Mike Bruesewitz hit a game-deciding shot, when Wisconsin’s student body rushed the floor or when we couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing Jordan Taylor’s stat line that included 5-for-8 on 3-point shooting. We can’t move on from the fact that Wisconsin fans have started labeling the Badgers “Buckeye Killers.” The rate of winning that OSU has achieved in football and basketball makes losing to the same school over and over again that much worse. We wouldn’t be the fan base we are if these things didn’t bother us. It’s part of a good fan’s DNA to squirm when falling to a rival, regardless of whether the loss means anything. But the beautiful thing about sports is there’s always another opportunity. And the impact of Saturday’s result would shrink if the Buckeyes hammered the Badgers March 6 at home, like they should. “To be spit on is just nasty,” freshman forward Jared Sullinger tweeted following the game. “On top of that in my Face. Before and after the game. Smh. I just kept walking. More fuel to the fire.” Although it was tough, Sullinger did the right thing. Wisconsin will get what’s coming. Until then, let’s move on. read more

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