Brazilian first division is set to kick off, whether anyone has noticed or not

In their book “Soccernomics,” written in 2009, Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski make “rosy predictions for Brazilian football,” including that the investments in the 2014 World Cup would help lift the country’s domestic game to a level similar to that of the major European leagues.cheap custom nfl jerseys

It is a rare false note in a fascinating work. A recent editorial in Brazil’s sports daily Lance! paints a truer picture of contemporary reality.

“Our club game is in the global third division,” it laments. “Brazilian football is today further behind the main centres than it has ever been, by any indicator.
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“We are easily beaten in terms of average crowd, TV audience, income of the clubs and interest of the sponsors.
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“Violence keeps people away from the stadiums. And we are exporters of talent, helping other leagues to be more attractive than our own.”

There are many explanations for such a state of affairs, in which the Brazilian game operates absurdly beneath its potential. Many of these explanations come back to leadership and organisation — in particular, a structure of football in which the tail wags the dog.
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Power inside the Brazilian football association, the CBF, does not rest with the clubs. It lies with the presidents of the 27 state federations. They, in turn, owe much of their allegiance to clubs so tiny they barely, if at all, qualify as professional.

As Lance! concludes, “The clubs and their fans are the biggest losers of our unhappy dynasty. Especially the big clubs — subjected to a disastrous calendar that obliges them to make a loss in the interests of those at the top.”nfl jerseys cheap nike

Quite why the clubs have yet to break away to form their own league is one of the major mysteries of Brazilian football. But the undeniable truth, the point overlooked by Kuper and Szymanski, is that there is little benefit in having 21st-century stadiums if they have to coincide with a 19th-century calendar.

Arsenal Transfer News: Everton Reportedly Confident of Signing Jack Wilshere

Everton are reportedly growing increasingly confident they will sign Jack Wilshere from Arsenal in the summer.
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Wilshere is out of contract at the end of the season and has rejected a new deal with the Gunners as it would involve taking a pay cut. He is also not too happy with the way he has been treated by the club, according to Football.London’s Charles Watts.cheap custom nfl jerseys

The situation has given Everton hope they can land Wilshere, as they would be willing to match his current wages as well as offer him “a sizeable signing on fee.”
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The 26-year-old has endured an injury-plagued career, but he has managed to prove his fitness at Arsenal this season and has made 35 appearances in all competitions.

Arsenal’s reluctance to offer Wilshere a big contract is perhaps understandable given his injury record. However, they do risk losing him on a free transfer in the summer if he does not renew.

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown said it would be a disaster if Wilshere left, per Indy Football:
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Everton manager Sam Allardyce has spoken about Wilshere and said he has “always admired him” in an interview with TalkSport.

A move to Everton would also see Wilshere reunited with former team-mate Theo Walcott, who moved to Goodison Park from Arsenal in January 2017.
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There’s no doubt that a fit Wilshere is a quality midfielder who is yet to fully realise his potential. However, his injury record is a concern and is likely to have an impact on any decisions regarding his future.

Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians

The Deal: 4 Years, $22 Million (with 2019, 2020 Club Options)

AAV: $5.50 Million cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Average WAR Value: $33.73 Million

Difference: $28.23 Million

Carlos Carrasco is basically getting Quintana money to be an even better pitcher.2be4e8f8c30f55ce0ba359664e7d13e9_crop_exact

This would have been unthinkable not too long ago. Carrasco first came to the Cleveland Indians in the 2009 Cliff Lee trade and then provided mixed results between 2009 and 2011. He then missed all of 2012 recovering from Tommy John surgery, only to return to providing mixed results in 2013 and 2014.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

That is, for most of 2014.

Cleveland moved the right-hander from its bullpen to the starting rotation in August and was rewarded with a 1.30 ERA in 10 outings down the stretch. It looked legit too, as Carrasco was throwing strikes with mid-90s heat and an electric slider and changeup.

So, then came his extension in April 2015.

From there through the end of 2017, the Indians watched Carrasco put up a 3.41 ERA with 592 strikeouts in 530 innings. Among AL pitchers, only Chris Sale, Chris Archer and teammate Corey Kluber struck batters out at a better rate.nfl cheap jerseys nike

Although he’s 31, Carrasco may not have peaked yet. He’s fresh off a 3.29 ERA and a career-high 200 innings in 2017. He’ll be a top Cy Young contender if he builds on that in 2018.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Jose Quintana, Chicago Cubs

The Deal: 5 Years, $26.50 Million (with 2019, 2020 Club Options)

AAV: $5.30 Million

Average WAR Value: $33.19 Million

Difference: $27.89 Million

The Chicago White Sox took a page from the Giants and Bumgarner when they extended Jose Quintana in March 2014.
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He’d only made his major league debut in 2012, and his body of work included just 336.1 innings. But since that included a 3.61 ERA, there was little risk in trying to gain some cost-controlled production.

The White Sox ended up getting a lot of that between 2014 and 2016. He averaged a 3.29 ERA and 205 innings per season, and he placed behind only a couple of heavyweights in the rWAR rankings for American League southpaws:
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1. Chris Sale: 14.5
2. David Price: 13.5
3. Jose Quintana: 12.7

Quintana subsequently stumbled out of the gate in 2017 with a 4.49 ERA in 18 starts for the White Sox. But the Chicago Cubs came calling with a basket of prospects anyway, and they got more or less what they wanted: a 3.74 ERA and six innings per start the rest of the way. hi-res-dfa9d8feddff4414b78c2904dec94735_crop_exact
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Thus far in 2018, Quintana is serving as the Cubs’ No. 4 starter. Beyond being one of the best to hold that distinction, he’s also one of the better bargains.

Yes, Andrew McCutchen is technically a member of the San Francisco Giants now. But his appearance here has everything to do with his time as a Pittsburgh Pirate.

After extending him in March 2012, general manager Neal Huntington said of McCutchen: “It has been our intent for Andrew to be a cornerstone for this organization, and this contract solidifies that intent.” This was something of a gamble, as McCutchen was fresh off three near-superstar-level seasons at the time.

Obviously, it paid off.

McCutchen did indeed become a full-blown superstar in 2012, posting a .953 OPS with 31 homers and 20 steals. He went on to win the National League MVP in 2013, and he continued to put up MVP-caliber numbers in 2014 and 2015. According to rWAR, there was no better player in the NL over those four seasons.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

Alas, McCutchen wasn’t the same player in 2016 and 2017. But he at least continued to hit well with an .807 OPS and 52 homers.
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After a slow start for the Giants, McCutchen is now teasing that he still has it. He’s collected two walk-off hits in a span of four days.

I don’t know why Buffon was protesting – Ronaldo

For the Portuguese, there was no doubt in his mind that referee Michael Oliver got the decisive late call correct cheap replica nfl jerseys

Cristiano Ronaldo has questioned why Juventus were protesting the decision to award a penalty to Real Madrid at the end of Wednesday’s Champions League fixture.

Having won the first leg 3-0, Zinedine Zidane’s men found themselves in big trouble as they trailed at home in the second by an identical score.

The match appeared destined for extra time as 90 minutes passed, yet Mehdi Benatia’s clumsy challenge resulted in a spot kick for the hosts.
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Gianluigi Buffon was dismissed for protesting against referee Michael Oliver’s decision , potentially ending his European career.

Ronaldo, who slammed the resultant kick into the top corner of the net, is puzzled why the visitors were so vehement in their remonstrations. nfl replica jerseys china

“I really don’t understand why they were protesting, but football is like that,” he said. “If they didn’t make the foul, Lucas would score the goal. We’re happy to be in the semi-finals.”

Meanwhile, the striker was cool over his long wait before striking the decisive blow to the Italians’ hopes.
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“I had to reassure myself. I was decisive and thank God I scored,” he said.

Despite Madrid’s progress, it was a chastening experience, as the Ballon d’Or winner admitted.

“It’s a lesson for us,” he concluded.
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Madrid join Bayern Munich, Roma and Liverpool in the Champions League last four.

Joey Bosa, DE, Los Angeles Chargers

Per Adam Rank of NFL.com, there are less than 10 players in the NFL who are essentially untradeable. Joey Bosa of the Los Angeles Chargers is one of them.
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“He gives the Chargers something they don’t have a lot of: charm and charisma,” Rank said. “He’s got a quirky sense of humor that should land him some sort of walk-on roll in New Girl or whatnot. I know this seems weird, but I live out here in Los Angeles and the Chargers desperately need that kind presence to win the Battle for L.A. Bosa is it.”

Bosa’s personality is great. What he does on Sundays for the Bolts is even better.youth nfl jerseys

In just two seasons, Bosa has already become one of the best edge-rushers in the NFL. He’s equally adept at stuffing the run as he is giving quarterbacks nightmares, racking up 12.5 sacks and a jaw-dropping 70 total tackles for the Chargers in 2017.

Bosa’s a nigh-unblockable force off the edge. Combined with Melvin Ingram, he provides the Chargers with the NFL’s top one-two punch at one of the league’s premium positions.
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Bosa has amassed 23 sacks in only 28 career games.

And he won’t even turn 23 until July.

Los Angeles Rams tailback Todd Gurley entered the 2017 season trying to rebound from a disappointing second year in the NFL in which he managed just 3.2 yards per carry.

The 23-year-old left Year 3 as an MVP candidate and the best player in the league under the age of 25.nfl youth jerseys cheap

Gurley was fantastic for the Rams last year, gaining 1,305 yards on 279 carries—a robust average of 4.7 yards a carry and the second time in three years Gurley’s hit that benchmark. He also caught 64 passes—the same number of receptions Gurley had in his first two seasons combined. The 6’1″, 227-pounder piled up almost 2,100 total yards and found the end zone an eye-popping 19 times.

Had Gurley not spent the final Sunday of the regular season as a spectator because the Rams’ playoff spot was set, he may well have led the NFL in rushing yards, receiving yards by a tailback and total touchdowns.
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Even with the Week 17 siesta, he finished second, second and first among non-quarterbacks. For much of the month of December, Gurley was being talked up as an MVP candidate.

LeBron James, SF, Cleveland Cavaliers: 15.41

Age: 33

Type of Free Agency: Player Option

2017-18 Per-Game Stats: 27.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 9.2 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.9 blocks
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2017-18 Advanced Metrics: 589.57 TPA, 28.6 PER, 13.8 WS, 14.02 RPM Wins
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Age can’t bring LeBron James down.
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He’s the oldest of our top 10 free agents, but he’s been so marvelous for the Cleveland Cavaliers that he’s still the No. nfl hats 1 finisher with room to spare. That’s what happens when you lead the NBA in TPA, trail just James Harden and Anthony Davis in PER (among qualified players), accumulate more win shares than everyone but Harden and sit behind only Harden and Russell Westbrook in RPM Wins.

James might be 33 years old, but he’s doing things he’s never done in his NBA tenure. His rebounding and assist averages are career highs. He’s tracking toward the first 82-game season of his professional life. He’s putting up triple-doubles more frequently than ever. The highlights just won’t stop coming. nfl shirts

Perhaps he’ll decline by the end of his next contract, though even that’s unlikely while he keeps signing short deals with opt-out clauses to maintain financial upside and roster flexibility. That won’t stop every team from coveting his services and understanding that the extreme value he provides in the official nfl football near future will make up for whatever happens on the back end.

Will James stay with the Cavaliers? Will he team up with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid on the Philadelphia 76ers?nfl wholesale  Are we ready to see him thrive alongside Harden and Chris Paul as a member of the Houston Rockets? Could he begin a new era of Los Angeles Lakers basketball?

That’s a conversation mired in uncertainty. This one isn’t.

James is the leading member of this free-agency class. Period. End of story.

Nikola Jokic, C, Denver Nuggets: 12.72

Age: 23

Type of Free Agency: Team Option

2017-18 Per-Game Stats: 18.3 points, 10.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.8 blocks
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2017-18 Advanced Metrics: 333.21 TPA, 24.4 PER, 10.3 WS, 12.74 RPM Wins

At this point, you shouldn’t doubt that Nikola Jokic is one of the NBA’s elite centers. He’s carried the Denver Nuggets to the brink of the playoffs in the brutal Western Conference, submits gaudy box-score numbers on a nightly basis and plays better-than-advertised defense. original nike nfl jerseys

Cue Ben Falk of Cleaning the Glass: 51e7123a0c3ef1b2501792b812c05cd0_crop_exact
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“Jokic’s critics are right: he does have real deficiencies. Denver’s eFG% defense has been really bad with Jokic in the game, hasn’t gotten much worse when he sits. The Nuggets have also forced many fewer turnovers with their big man playing.

“But it turns out that those issues are outweighed by the things he does really well: prevent shots at the rim and rebound through size and positioning, all without fouling.”

Falk contains plenty of statistical proof that the defensive concerns surrounding Jokic are largely hyperbolic. But everything can be summarized in a simple statement: The big man struggles at the point of attack and protecting against the shots that do occur at the rim, and we’re not used to paying mind to the areas in which he excels because best nfl jerseys from china  they happen away from the primary action.
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In an attempt to negate the actual flaws, the Denver Nuggets will continue trying to surround him with the right pieces. His free agency isn’t going to be a dramatic affair. The front office will inevitably turn down his team option to avoid letting him hit unrestricted free agency in 2019, then immediately offer him a max contract before he has a chance to sign an offer sheet with a different franchise.

Boom. The 23-year-old center will be locked up throughout the foreseeable future, ready to continue passing both the eye test and any metric-based evaluations.

Marcell Ateman, Oklahoma State

POSITIVES

—Attacks the ball in flight to secure contested catches.

—High-points down the field better than most receivers in this class.

—Clean and consistent hands at all levels of the field.

—Oklahoma State offensive system runs varied route tree.

—Can drop weight well to drive out of breaks and cause separation at intermediate levels.

NEGATIVES

—Missed entire 2016 season with foot injury.

—Clunky runner that struggles to make sudden changes of direction.

—Lackluster technique as a blocker despite ideal frame.

—Slow by NFL standards and not particularly strong; reps against press were an issue at Senior Bowl.

—Oklahoma State’s conference isn’t known for defense; Ateman played with a strong QB and better receiver on the opposite side of the field.

OVERALL

Marcell Ateman’s experience in an explosive Big 12 offense is either a benefit or drawback based on the evaluator. His size and downfield strength were highlighted as a go-up-and-get-it receiver for the Cowboys. Despite an ideal frame (6’4″, 216 lbs), Ateman struggles to consistently show the strength needed to routinely block cornerbacks in the run game, and his work against press coverage is underwhelming. Nonetheless, with size and reliable hands, he should have no problem building as an eventual matchup receiver, particularly down the field and in the red zone.

POSITIVES

—Athletic tools are among the best in the class (4.41 40).buy cheap nfl jerseys china

—Played a Percy Harvin role as a runner, receiver and returner.

—Graceful, explosive athlete who makes it look easy cutting and sprinting down the field.

—Has legit speed and will run away from coverage; hits his second gear and is gone.where can i buy cheap nfl jerseys

—Can beat jams with quick feet at the line of scrimmage.9f635b813abc136e6c07c8db309cbf41_crop_exact

—Makes playing receiver look easy.

—Attacks the ball and is an aggressive competitor.

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NEGATIVES

—Missed 2017 season after being suspended following credit card scandal at Florida.

—Sexual assault hearing in 2016; found not responsible by school-appointed hearing officer.

—Cited for marijuana possession in May 2017.
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—Smaller frame (5’11”, 197 lbs) that could break down under his play style.

—Production was limited but could be due to QB situation at Florida.nfl discount jerseys

J’Mon Moore, Missouri

POSITIVES

—Used more as a blocker than most receivers in Missouri’s spread-screen pass offense.

—Length and speed will get him plenty of looks by scouts.

—Snags the ball out of the air with good catch radius and hands away from his body.

—Good lateral quickness and after-the-catch ability for a tall (6’3″) receiver.

—Plenty of potential with untapped route-running ability.

NEGATIVES

—Became frustrated by physical corners at the Senior Bowl.

—Limited route-runner due to college offense.

—Tested slower than his film.

—Struggled to get into routes and let corners force him to the edge.

—Questionable focus and drive for the NFL.

OVERALL

A raw talent coming out of a spread scheme, J’Mon Moore wasn’t asked to run a variety of routes at Mizzou but could quickly develop if given time in the NFL. Scouts question his focus and drive, which led to drops and lapses in play. Good athlete with a lot of potential as an NFL receiver.POSITIVES

—Explosive vertical threat who projects well in the slot.

—Has the speed to chew up yards and take the top off a defense.

—Experienced kick returner with a 92-yard touchdown on his resume.cheap nfl authentic jerseys wholesale

—Does a great job finding zones and could be a dangerous threat on option routes in the pros.

—Handled a big role in an all-pass offense and never backed down from the spotlight.

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NEGATIVES

—Short and small (5’9 ¾”, 181 lbs) frame.

—Can get pushed around in his route tree and has to be protected by his alignment pre-snap.

—Ran in a scheme dominated by space and hasn’t been asked to make plays in traffic.buy nfl jerseys cheap

—Small frame and timid style of play had one scout tell us he’s soft.

—Teams are concerned about durability in the pros.

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OVERALL

Keke Coutee is a fun prospect with the speed and stretch game to be an asset in an offense that needs a vertical player in a three- or four-receiver set. He does bring value as a kick returner, but a small frame and questions about toughness hurt his grade.